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Guest Commentary: Being helpful when you are feeling helpless

By Staff | Apr 1, 2020

With anxiety and uncertainty, the signs of these modern times, the loss of control over the future may leave people feeling helpless or hopeless and wondering what they can do.

Studies have found that helping others is beneficial for you. It can help reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health.

These days, a simple act of kindness can go a long way. At Community Cooperative, our small staff and volunteers have boots on the ground to help mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus, including layoffs causing food insecurity and fear.

We are ready to roll up our sleeves in the coming weeks to help take care of Southwest Florida, but we can’t do it without the help of the community.

Demand for our services is increasing as business closures result in more people without a paycheck. Recent challenges of social distancing have forced Community Cooperative to get creative with our services, but our mission remains the same, to safely and responsibly meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations throughout Southwest Florida by collecting and distributing resources through a strong and viable network of community partners.

Currently, our programs are available to anyone who needs them, even if they have not been clients in the past:

  • Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to our home bound seniors
  • Community Cafe/Soup kitchen serving hot meals to-go to anyone who needs them, Monday-Friday
  • Emergency food distribution

We are asking supporters to make financial contributions to assist with additional emergency food purchases and have published a list of shelf-stable food items people can purchase and donate should they wish to contribute in that way.

We need volunteers to keep our programs running. For example, most of our Meals on Wheels delivery volunteers are over the age of 70. Ideally, we’d like to have a list of on-call drivers we can call on to make sure our elderly shut-ins receive their important meals when our volunteers aren’t available to drive their route. This is a great opportunity for college students who are at home for the rest of the semester!

We will be adding more locations for our mobile pantries to reach people in need, so we’ll need volunteers to help pack and distribute emergency food.

Our volunteer kitchen staff prepares Meals on Wheels and to-go meals for our cafe, with various shifts starting at 6 a.m. We will work with each volunteer to arrange a day and time of the week that fits our needs and the volunteer’s schedule.

Community Cooperative is taking all the proper steps to keep volunteers and visitors safe, including limiting the number of volunteers working together at a time. For the safety of our clients, volunteers and staff all our emergency food distributions have been moved to our mobile food pantries which are all drive thru.

If you need help, we’re here to help with hot meals and grocery assistance. You can visit one of our locations or dial 211, United Way’s free 24-hour non-emergency helpline to navigate the human and social service agency resources in Lee, Hendry and Glades county for each caller’s situation.

Together, our community will get through this crisis by supporting one another. For information on how to get help, how to donate, or to learn about volunteer requirements and opportunities and fill out a volunteer application, visit communitycooperative.com or call 239-332-SOUP.

– Tracey Galloway is the chief executive officer of the Community Cooperative.