Is Coronavirus (or, COVID 19) the end of the world? Is everyone overreacting? Will this be the decline of civilization as we know it or an embarrassing story we tell to our kids one day?
Regardless of your answer, this is a time that is frightening and unsettling for most. Schools are closed and parents are scrambling for childcare. Workplaces are cutting hours or sending people home. Small businesses, especially shops, are looking at a significant decrease in income as shoppers choose to go online instead of visiting stores.
At Alpha Omega Center, as with many pregnancy centers, we're continuing to serve our clients while taking their safety into consideration. We're blessed to have a service that allows us to text our families their parenting lessons so they can watch them and fill out worksheets online. Then, we'll send staff to their homes to drop off needed items like diapers, wipes, formula, and baby food. Our team will pay special attention to our families who may struggle with domestic violence or addiction, these problems will become harder to deal with in isolation.
We're continuing to see clients in need of medical services in our office, but we're asking them to stay home if they're experiencing concerning symptoms. We're also educating about the importance of handwashing and hygiene, while increasing our sanitation measures in the office. If we're instructed to close we will do so, but we'll continue to provide support and information via the phone, text or other messaging, and email.
Our abstinence educators can't educate students when school is out, but we can connect with them on social media and through the web. They will need a listening ear now more than ever, as they're at home, bored, and potentially hanging out with friends without parental supervision.
Nobody knows the future, and I don't claim to, but it is reasonable to expect that the unplanned pregnancy rate will go up after long periods of being stuck at home. Not only that, but abortion providers will likely tell women that abortion is a good option to avoid having a less than perfect child - even if the risk of developmental issues is low. Mothers will need us more than ever as they face an unplanned pregnancy and an illness.
Further, families who were previously able to care for their children may lose jobs or income and need assistance. This assistance may come from government agencies, but should also come from their neighbors, friends, and local churches.
So, what can you do? How can you turn this crazy situation into one that brings peace and hope?
First, slow down. Look around you. Is your neighbor struggling? Are families at your church desperate for childcare? Identify the need around you and ask God how you can respond. Don't become overwhelmed by the need, focus on what YOU can do. You can do something, I promise. Look at your Jerusalem, your neighborhood and community. What needs to be done?
Second, assess what you can manage. Can you give money? Buy grocery store gift cards? Volunteer to babysit? Some families might just need an adult to be in their home overnight while their children sleep, others may need someone for just a few hours a day. You may not be able to watch twelve children fourteen hours a day (who can?) but you can probably sit with a toddler during naptime or check in on your local pre-teens.
Third, realize that whatever your personal opinion is on the actual danger - people are hurting. Not only are they struggling now, but even a few weeks without income could be disastrous for months or even years. Be sensitive to different needs around you, and realize that many are less fortunate that you are.
Finally, look for places you can support during this time. At Alpha Omega Center, we're going to continue to operate, but we'll need your help. We need people who can donate diapers and wipes, purchase gift cards for clients in need (amounts needed listed above), and donate to keep our doors open.
When this is over we will want to look back on it as a time that we came together, helped one another, and showed people the love of Christ. That starts today, this moment, and you can be part of it.