On March 21, New York City resident Sophie Vershbow’s monthly unlimited MetroCard arrived.
And of course, she had no need for it.
Like many Americans, the 30-year old social media director is working from home these days. Still, other people still have to take mass transit to work, so she offered it up on Twitter.
About 50 people responded saying that they too, had cards to donate, mostly through company-sponsored benefit accounts. So she organized a Google doc to connect donors with recipients.
Vershbow is not the only one organizing mutual aid these days, with so many people at home. We talked to essential workers and grass roots organizers about what people can do to help essential workers.
1. Donate your travel pass or voucher
An unlimited New York City monthly MetroCard costs $127.
“That’s a lot of money for some grocery store clerks or delivery people,” Vershbow said. “Those of us fortunate enough to work from home should absolutely help out the people bringing food to us.” Qualifying for one isn’t a competition for who needs it the most, she said. “If you need one, take one.”
Since she set up the exchange doc, she’s matched about 240 people.
Other MetroCard exchanges for New York City can be found on the CoronaMetro spreadsheet and another Google spreadsheet organized by Elizabeth Adams, a legislative director for a city council member.
2. Send food, coffee or drinks to your local hospital or nursing home
“The little gestures go a long way,” emergency doctor and #GetUsPPE advocate Megan Ranney said.
Doctors like Ranney are treating suspected covid-19 patients every day. She is still going to work every day, so can’t quarantine, and doesn’t want to go into a grocery store in case she is carrying the virus.
In addition, health care workers “feel alone, can’t get supplies, are doing more work with less, and facing unbelievably difficult circumstances,” Ranney said.
As a result, health care workers — including nurses, lab technicians and custodial staff — don’t have time to grocery shop and cook. Ordering food from nearby restaurants also helps out the prepared-food industry. As for what to send, Ranney advises using common sense and to keep safety in mind.
“As far as we know, there’s no risk of contracting covid-19 through cooked food,” Ranney said.
Hot or cooked food could be better than raw salads, and easily divided food can help workers who have limited time for meal breaks. Communal food like pizzas, while appreciated, require someone in gloves to divide the pies and plate slices.
3. Send a card or flowers
“We’re grieving,” Ranney said, referring to the emotional strain and trauma of anyone working in a hospital right now. “Just like we send sympathy cards and flowers when someone dies, we could send them now.”
This would also extend to your doormen or concierges, grocery store clerks and small business workers.
4. Walk someone’s dog. Run an errand.
“I kept hearing stories about health care workers overseas and wondered how to help people on the front lines who are working longer hours and dealing with more than they ever expected to deal with,” said Kelly Neuner.
The 31-year old UX designer joined Covid Accelerator and worked with a team there to launch HospitalHero on Monday. The platform pairs volunteers with essential workers who need a little help in their daily lives.
One of their first requests was for help caring for a golden retriever, Neuner said.
The service is not just for doctors and nurses.
“It’s for everybody working in the hospital,” Neuner said. “Everyone is an important part of the system.”