Responding to

"If you can, help others; if you cannot do that,
at least do not harm them."
Dalai Lama

Life is full of choices.

Life is full of risks.

Never before, at least that I can recall, has it seemed that these two statements are so inextricably intertwined with the potential for enormous impact. Every choice we make about where we go, what we do, with whom we interact, and how we do these things seems to carry with it risk both for ourselves and for those around us. Even for people we've never met.

The coronavirus has forced each of us to change how we live and interact with others. Infectious disease researchers advocate that we all practice  social distancing and rigorous, almost obsessive, hand washing. We've been instructed to stay home as much as possible, limit outings to only those that are necessary, and wear masks whenever in public. Even though some restrictions are easing, the risks haven't changed. Following these guidelines is crucial not only to protecting our individual health but also to minimizing the harm COVID-19 inflicts on our society as a whole.

Thinking about the needs of others and taking action is something that Kitchen Angels volunteers have done for nearly thirty years. But in the context of our new reality, our actions have a significantly greater meaning and impact.

As civil rights strategist Eric Ward writes, "The truth of our interconnectedness has never been more apparent."   These days, we're being asked to pay attention to our individual impact on a much broader scale. We're being asked to consider the " common good." To think about the ethical ideals we strive for together, the benefits and burdens we share, and the sacrifices we're willing to make for one another.

Ashwin Vasan, the president and CEO of Fountain House , an organization that works to reduce isolation among the mentally ill, says that by distancing ourselves, we're contributing to a societal act, a collective action, that is not only protecting ourselves, but protecting others. If we can see some community in that, and see some connectedness in that, it can help us find peace in doing something that is so inherently difficult.
And so I'm asking all Kitchen Angels volunteers to be mindful of the choices you make. Every close physical contact you have with another person exposes you to every close physical contact the other person has had. The same holds true for the other person. And so the pattern continues. Think about fractals .

It's easy to be thoughtful and vigilant when we're at Kitchen Angels but when we're out grocery shopping and forget and give a friend a hug, or decide to get together with someone for drinks or a meal, and then come in for a shift, we've potentially exposed our co-volunteers, the staff and our clients to COVID-19.

Please remember, our choices impact our clients in potentially profound ways. We can make choices about the risks we choose to take but when it comes to the people we've committed ourselves to serving . . . they typically don't have that same luxury.

We're in this together. And, as a Kitchen Angels family, we're also in this on behalf of others whose wellbeing is dependent on the choices we make.

To each Kitchen Angels volunteer, thank you.

In gratitude,
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe, healthy and informed.