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Joy for the Week Ahead 18 May 2020


We're seeing some of our retail businesses open up very cautiously, and some restaurants are offering outdoor service. My local indie bookstore has created a complicated system of appointments, masks, and assigning a staff member to assist each shopper. And in nearby Massachusetts, which has suffered a lot, there is also some limited opening up of businesses this week and next.

Since all the different countries and states are doing different things at different times, we'll have to make our own well-informed decisions about whether we want to resume haircuts, workouts at the gym, and eating at restaurants. I think self-care plays an important part of the decision-making process, because we will have a hard time making good choices for ourselves and our families if we are stressed out and upset all the time. So even though I feel I need to keep up with the flow of information about the virus, I also need to temper that with positive experiences as much as I can. A positive experience, for me, can be as simple as taking a picture of a beautiful flower blooming in my yard.

I randomly found a lot of financial help links for this newsletter, and if you are one of the lucky ones who doesn't need it, please consider a donation to Full Cart.

  • Money concerns. It's an understatement to say that most of us are probably really worried about money right now. Unless you're so wealthy that a huge recession won't touch you, a pandemic-induced drop in economic activity is going to negatively affect everyone in some way. If you're looking for advice or information on getting a job, budgeting, mortgage payments, or anything even remotely in the realm of making ends meet, check out The Penny Hoarder.
  • For U.S. residents: public assistance. If you are in the U.S. and receive public assistance benefits such as SNAP, this app is what you need. It's called Fresh EBT, and you can check your balance, find coupons to “clip,” and get information about other types of assistance that may be available for your situation. There is also a limited pandemic-related opportunity to qualify for $1000 of no-strings-attached assistance to families who are in dire need. The Fresh EBT company has teamed up with a charitable organization to provide these grants, but the application for the grant is being sent randomly to Fresh EBT users. There's no way to access an application except through the app, and the application will appear randomly when funds are available. More information is available here. But if you are struggling and you are living in the U.S., please go to the Fresh EBT site for information on whether you qualify for aid.
  • Where to find emergency resources for COVID19-related hardship. This is a mostly U.S.-centric enormous list of resources. You can look for regionally-specific assistance, assistance for people working in the arts sectors, and business-oriented assistance. At the very bottom of the list are a few international resources.
  • Food aid. If you could use a free bag of groceries due to COVID19, go to Full Cart. You'll see that there are two buttons on the home page, one for donations and one for free groceries. If you don't need free groceries and have a little bit of wiggle room on your bills this this, please consider a donation. When you click the button, you'll see several options for donations. It is shocking to be reminded that just $15 will feed a family this week.
  • Children's Storytime. Looking for something to amuse the kids? Barack and Michelle Obama do a session of the Chicago Public Library's “Live from the Library” and read The Word Collector, by Peter H. Reynolds. And wow, I just heard of this: readings from the Harry Potter books on the Wizarding World website! If you (or your young friends!) haven't explored this website yet, it'll take you a long time to get through all the fun stuff here!
  • Last but not least. I cried during this poem. It's just four minutes. I promise it has an uplifting message. From “Probably Tom Foolery,” a filmmaker on YouTube. If you're curious, like I was, about this incredible work, read this interview from the Washington Post.

I know that this list is a bit of a jumble. I just didn't want anyone in need to feel forgotten, so I started with the most basic of needs, food. I usually talk a lot about the arts, but we all need to eat, even the artists.

Have a good week!

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