Responding to

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to
keep a good attitude while waiting.”
While I was quite pleased by the number of volunteers who expressed a willingness and desire last week to come back to Kitchen Angels and resume their shifts, we're not ready for everyone to come back. At least not yet.

Prior to the Governor lifting restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, the rules for managing the pandemic seemed relatively straightforward: stay home except for necessary trips to the grocery store and for health care. Pretty much everything else was off limits. Only essential workers (including Kitchen Angels staff and a limited number of volunteers) ventured out. Our volunteer base had to shrink because of our need to keep high-risk volunteers safe from infection and to reduce the number of people coming into our building.

Our efforts have been successful. To date, we've had no volunteers or staff contract COVID-19. Our clients, likewise, have all reportedly remained COVID-free.

And that's why we will continue with all of our current safety and risk-reduction protocols for the foreseeable future. These protocols mean we have less flexibility in who can volunteer than we had prior to the pandemic. Shifts have fewer volunteers and we've eliminated public access to the building.

Ask Yourself . . .

If you are interested in returning to a volunteer shift, please first ask yourself if you are willing to adhere to our required social distancing protocols throughout all parts of your day, and not just while you are at Kitchen Angels. If you're not, that's OK. It means that you can't yet come back to volunteer, though.

In addition, ask yourself: 
  1. Am I able to work a full shift wearing a face mask?
  2. Can I hear well enough from six-feet away if the other person is speaking through a face mask?
  3. Am I willing to work a different shift than the one I previously worked?
  4. Can I commit to showing up to my shift on-time and without canceling at the last minute?
  5. Can I adapt to a new environment and new routine?
  6. Can I reliably communicate with the Volunteer Coordinator?
  7. Do I feel safe being back in the public sphere?

If you answer "NO" to any of these questions, you're not ready to return.
The "Four Cs" . . .

As New Mexico lifts restrictions, guidance about navigating the minutiae of everyday life is hard to come by. There probably won't be a ready solution to every circumstance.

Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease expert and chief health officer for the University of Michigan said in a recent New York Times article , “Ramping down was easy by comparison, even though it felt hard at the time — we basically flipped a switch. Reopening is much more complicated. There is no template, no playbook. We can’t just say, ‘Follow these ten rules, and you’re good.’”

What Dr. Malani and others are saying is that the risk reduction practices that have been in place since mid-March remain necessary. The article identifies "Four Cs" we should each keep in mind as we navigate our new world:

We each need to continue with social distancing precautions. This means wearing masks, washing hands well and often, and keeping a distance of at least six feet from one another. No hugs and no handshakes.
Avoid extended indoor contact with others. Indoor activities in confined enclosed spaces, even large spaces, are more conducive to spreading the virus than events held outside, especially if the air inside the building is being recirculated or the windows don’t open. A flow of fresh air dilutes the virus.

Large groups are risky. Even outdoors, crowds mean more people, more contacts, and more potential sources of infection. Preventing infection is a numbers game, where less is more.

Every individual ultimately must make a personal decision about the level of risk he or she is comfortable with, weighing their own age and health status, life circumstances and general level of risk aversion or tolerance.

Dr. Barbara Taylor, an infections disease specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center, summarized it well. "We are our brothers' keepers . . . so it comes down to not just thinking about ourselves, but our whole communities and how we all have to protect one another."

To each Kitchen Angels volunteer, thank you.

In gratitude,
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe, healthy and informed.
We have many businesses, foundations, and individuals to thank for supporting Kitchen Angels during the pandemic.

Trying to thank everyone individually would be nearly impossible. Please know how grateful we are for everyone's constant support. Here are just a few whose commitment to our work is truly inspiring:

Anchorum for their donation of personal protective equipment

Just the Best for the produce they continue to donate

Make Santa Fe for personal protective equipment

The many good samaritans who anonymously drop off face masks

Maxwell Cohen for his design and construction of a cashier shield for KITCHENALITY

Linda Dressman and Trish Bellia for their home-baked goods. Trish also brought in fresh trout that she caught herself

Elva Busch for buying lunch for staff and offering regular words of encouragement

The many volunteers who are helping prepare KITCHENALITY for its reopening, including John Lippe, Scott Werner, Helen Fabel and Sarah Taylor .