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Looking for the Helpers

“If you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

– Fred Rogers

 

The news these days is rightly focused on the tragedy that’s immobilizing our nation, as our normal way of life grinds to a halt, and the regular routines we all lived by change. But, during these uncertain and scary times, it’s more important than ever to remember the immense capacity for kindness and care in everyone around us.

“Looking for the Helpers” is a series about our local community, and the ways we’re all coming together to uplift and help one another, one story at a time. From teddy bears to food banks, we’re here for each other – being the helpers Mister Rogers asked us to be.

Keep an eye out on WETA TV, WETA's social media platforms and right here on this page for inspiring video stories highlighting unique efforts from our local community of neighbors helping neighbors during these challenging times.

Do you know of any inspiring efforts by people or organizations to help others in your community during the current public health crisis? Please submit that story below and we may contact you for more information to create a short video profile for WETA TV and WETA's digital platforms.

Sidewalk Sessions

Saxophone player Elijah Jamal Balbed and drummer Isabelle De Leon watched the gigs they were used to playing across D.C., dry up due to COVID-19. In response, however, the couple started performing a novel blend of jazz, funk and Go-Go–on their front lawn. These stripped down, intimate sessions, which they live-stream across the web, have brought joy to their Columbia Heights neighborhood and purpose to the performers.


Teens Helping Seniors

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dhruv Pai and Matthew Casertano started delivering groceries to their grandparents. After asking themselves how other seniors were getting necessities, the two Montgomery Blair High School students created Teens Helping Seniors, a 100% teen-run organization that pairs seniors with volunteer teen shoppers. The program now has hundreds of volunteers across the US and Canada, serving dozens of seniors each day.

To volunteer or request a delivery, email teenshelpingseniors@gmail.com. For more information, visit teenshelpingseniors.org and follow the organization on Twitter and Instagram.


The Falls Church Piper

Every Sunday, Eric Rice-Johnston suits up in full parade regalia and marches with his bagpipes throughout the Jefferson Village in Falls Church, Virginia, bringing the joy of music directly into the homes of his socially-distanced neighbors. Says Rice-Johnston: “I started taking my pipes around the neighborhood when I realized people aren't going out, why don't I go to them?”


Pet Adoptions Go Virtual

In an effort to keep people and animals safe during the Covid-19 crisis, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington shifted to a virtual adoption process to pair rescue animals with loving families.


A Taste of New Orleans in Arlington

The closure of Arlington Schools due to Covid-19 has caused thousands of Arlington schoolchildren to lose access to free or reduced meals through their district. Local restaurateur David Guas has stepped in to help, providing hundreds of free, hearty, healthy meals to Arlington families out of his temporarily shuttered restaurant, Bayou Bakery. With the help of Real Food for Kids, a local non-profit, Chef Guas’s initiative has expanded to serve families across the D.C. area.

To learn more or to see how you can help, go to http://www.realfoodforkids.org/chefsfeedingfamilies

The music in this piece is “A Pleasant Strike” by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue).


A Socially Distant Wedding Story

What happens when your wedding is cancelled by a global crisis? For Silver Spring residents, Tony Rollins and Stephanie Johnson, and their neighbor Chip Py, creativity blossomed.


An Oasis in Silver Spring

In Silver Spring, Maryland two parishioners from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church have led an interfaith effort to fight hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the crisis, Jason Giovannettone and Jason Moore recruited three local restaurants (The Society, Khyber Kitchen and Mod Pizza) and non-profit Shepherd’s Table, to prepare meals for at-risk families, and volunteers to deliver those meals. As need has grown, Moore and Giovannettone have created a partnership between five different local churches to make home cooked meals and deliver them. The ministry now provides over 250 meals per week and hopes to expand.

If you have information on families in the Silver Spring area that need food assistance, or you are able to help cook or deliver meals, please contact Jason Giovannettone at jpgiovannettone@gmail.com or Jason Moore at stmichaelspoorandvulnerable@gmail.com.


#PaintTheStorefronts

Andy Shallal, the CEO and founder of Busboys and Poets, shares how local artists are banding together to bring life to empty storefronts.


Arlington Food Assistance Center

In the midst of a pandemic, Arlington Food Assistance Center continues to help families in need put food on the table. Executive Director & CEO Charles Meng discusses how they remain committed to serving the community throughout this crisis.

For more information or to learn how you can support the mission of AFAC, go to https://afac.org/


Bear Hunt

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Sanchez discusses how a safe and creative community scavenger hunt helps kids and families stuck at home.