Homebound students in American history class at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis are working on a project. I know this because my granddaughter called, asking if she could interview me about two significant historical events I remember from before she was born.
I readily agreed to the interview, although for this journalist it certainly felt like “the shoe being on the other foot.” My granddaughter is a gentle soul, so I don’t have to worry about being grilled. And at this stage in the project, I just had to come up with the two topics to be discussed.
Given the juxtaposition of her age and mine, that was a pretty wide-open field. But the descriptive word “significant” narrowed that territory.
The current health pandemic qualifies as significant. Our descendants will talk about it like we mull the Spanish flu of 1918.
“How did they survive?” “What was it like?”
Answering their queries ahead of the asking…
Despite technological advances, we were surprisingly taken by surprise as the coronavirus descended on our ranks.
Despite scientific advances, we weren’t prepared. We were almost smug in our denial that America would experience anything close to what China and Italy were seeing. We were too advanced, we thought, to be taken down by a virus.
Despite hoarders who grabbed up all the toilet paper, price gougers who took advantage, and naysayers who kept congregating regardless of the warnings to stay at home, we managed to overcome, survive and even thrive.
“How?” they naturally would ask. The generosity of our neighbors, we would answer.
It’s true. A crisis of this magnitude brings out the best in many of us. Bright minds are pooling ideas, coming up with innovative programs to help others who find themselves suddenly unemployed or in need or at high-risk of getting sick.
Crisis response teams are working on solutions right here in Southern Indiana. Take for instance the folks at Develop New Albany, who got together with New Albany city officials and other stakeholders to develop a restaurant voucher program to help service industry workers.
Businesses, too, have enacted measures to ease the pressure on customers experiencing financial hardships. Many banks have instituted loan deferments, and several utilities said they wouldn’t shut off service to customers who couldn’t pay — before the government dictated the action.
Area food banks, including the one at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville, have risen to meet the need. At the church, volunteers are opening the pantry more days to provide food. Last Wednesday, the food bank served 75 people; a typical midweek visitor count is 25.
That effort was enabled, in part, through the generosity of Meijer. The national grocer, which has 400 food pantry partners across the country, donated $5,000 in Meijer gift cards — to each of the food banks.
Such examples of generosity are plentiful, and we at the News and Tribune thought they should be rewarded, so we’re establishing the “Good Deeds” program. Publisher Bill Hanson said the idea for the program began when he heard about Meijer helping food banks stock their shelves.
“In my mind, I was thinking ‘they didn’t have to do that,’” he recalled. “In a difficult time, they had given back even more than they normally do.
“As I heard of more businesses and organization going above and beyond, I wanted to do something to reward their efforts.”
That’s why Hanson established Good Deeds, a program in which organizations and companies that help Clark and Floyd residents in a big way can have a half-page, full color ad in the News and Tribune — for free.
“We’ll help them defer their cost on anything they need to promote within 30 days of us finding out about their generous act,” Hanson said. “Let us know what you are doing, and if we see broad benefit to the community, we’ll give you an ad.”
One good turn, as they say, deserves another. That’s no small commitment on the part of the newspaper. When I asked the publisher how that reward translates in dollars, he pulled out his phone and after a few taps on its calculator said, “over a thousand dollars.”
Hmmm, maybe I could talk him into giving me a free, half-page color ad promoting grandparents as authoritative sources for children’s history projects? Nice side hustle for now, retirement gig later… I’ll have to let that idea simmer a while.
In the meantime, tell us what you’ve been doing to help Southern Indiana residents get through this crisis. Contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-206-2134 to see if you qualify for a free ad. If you’d like to share your personal story with our readers, send a brief explainer to email@example.com.
Southern Indiana residents always rise to the challenge. Thank you for your caring and generosity. Be well.