Signs of Hope in Pandemic Times


When you feel despair at the size and scope of disaster, said Mr. Rogers, “Look to the helpers.” Beautiful people are out there, down the street, all around us. So here are three stories of hope from Black Dog Café, Trevor Noah, and New York City. If these inspire you, read to the end for two actions you can take to help.

Black Dog has long been one of my favorite places in St. Paul, and the Remkes are a big reason why that is so. Sara and Andrew Remke, brother and sister, are the owners. Their hospitality makes Black Dog a welcoming place to meet, hang out, or work alone on a computer.  Their food is delicious, often locally sourced, and reasonably priced. And now it is often free.

“’Katja sent me.’

“When Andy Remke heard that on Tuesday, he knew just what do to.

“As manager of the Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, he had posted the day’s code name on social media. When he heard it from a customer, he immediately produced a meal, free of charge.”

But the story of hope isn’t just about the Remkes—it’s about the community that includes their customers, who donate meals when picking up their own, or online by clicking on the “pay it forward” link on Black Dog’s website.

Trevor Noah is one of my favorite television people. His 10 p.m. Daily Show on Comedy Central is now the Daily Social Distancing Show, filmed from his home. The story of hope is this:

“Noah is personally paying the salaries of 25 furloughed members of ‘The Daily Show’ crew amid the industry-wide production shutdown prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Noah has informed crew members that he will continue to pay their salaries until production begins to ramp back up in the television industry.

“’These are the people who have been on the show with Trevor from day one and help him put on the show,’ a source close to the production tells Variety. ‘Trevor is personally covering their salaries until the production business opens again. He respects his crew tremendously and feels it’s only right that they get thru this together.’”

Finally, kudos to Sandra Pérez and Francisco Ramírez in New York City:

“Every afternoon, Sandra Pérez and Francisco Ramírez go over their list of fellow New Yorkers who need help because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some are sick. Others lost jobs, but have children to feed. Others are elderly or disabled. All are immigrants, like them.

“Then, the friends, both originally from Mexico, stock up on rice, beans, vegetables, cereal, soups and fruit at an East Harlem supermarket, and make deliveries by car to as many as 15 families a day.

“‘I feel that if we are well, physically, emotionally, then we can help others,’ said Ramírez, a 52-year-old day laborer who used to do construction jobs, but now finds work scarce because of the crisis.”

There are so many others who are helping in so many ways. We need to look to the helpers: to the essential workers risking their own health to care for people, and also to every single person out there helping in whatever way they can.

And here are three ways you can help:

  1. Donate to the Minnesota Immigrant Families COVID-19 Fund to support “immigrant families who don’t qualify for local, state or federal support,  and for those who, because of COVID-19, may be pushed even deeper into the shadows with little or few resources available to meet their immediate needs.”
  2. Contact your Minnesota state legislators and ask them to support SF 4540/HF 4611, a bill to establish an emergency community relief grant program to support Minnesotans who fall through the gaps of federal stimulus grants, unemployment insurance, and other relief programs.
  3. Donate to the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, to help them continue the crucial work of providing legal representation to immigrants and refugees and advocating for more just immigration policies.

We are all in this together. Keep hope alive!






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