Showing Gratitude in the Time of COVID-19

June 15, 2020
By: 
Mary Brennan, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia

Expressing gratitude while isolating from the very folks who deserve our thanks takes a little creativity. I’ll admit to being a hugger, a back-patter, someone who loves to read the look in someone’s eyes or see a smile on their face when telling them, “Thanks!” While a handwritten note is wonderful, too, there’s nothing like being present in real life for showing gratitude.

But I can’t be within back-patting thank-you distance during this time of staying separate and staying safe. What to do?

My parish wanted to provide our folks with some hands-on, practical service opportunities – something other than writing a check – that could be carried out during this unique time, and so we sought out several organizations with the most immediate need right now. One of Atlanta’s rehabilitation and nursing home centers asked for help for its staff and residents, and I saw something I could do.

With extra time on my hands, a stash of crafty card-making supplies, and an eagerness to help bring comfort to someone other than myself, I set to work making thank you cards by hand for the nursing home staff. The professional staff members caring for the elderly residents – who’ve been isolated from family and each other for almost two months – have taken on the role of residents’ sons, daughters, and grandkids in addition to their regular duties. Add to that longer hours and increased precautions and safety protocols required for this health crisis, and you have folks who are weary and maybe a little scared for the residents and themselves.

Even though I have stacks of store-bought cards that can fill the thank-you-note bill, I really wanted to create something personal and unique for these amazing caregivers. No two cards are alike, and while I wasn’t given the names of the staff members, I tried to make each handwritten message special. Other volunteers are providing candy, hand cream, and more comfort items so that we can assemble goody bags along with the thank you cards.

And for the residents? Handwritten notes for them, as well, along with sudoku, word find, and crossword puzzle books; decks of cards; art supplies – any activity they can do by themselves or with one of the staff members. These beloved people are the most vulnerable during this particular crisis. They, and the caring professionals who ensure their safety, deserve our outpouring of love and thanks right now.

Got a pen? Got some paper? There are lots of people who need to know you care. Show them how thankful you are for them until we can get back to hugging and back-patting.

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