Responding to

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”

Okakura Kakuzo
Chameleons are pretty amazing creatures. They can change their color quickly to adapt to changes in their surroundings. Their survival depends on it. Other creatures adapt a bit more slowly, for example to seasonal changes, by changing the color of their fur or plumage. Still others adapt to environmental changes over generations.

Adapting to change is a requirement for all life to survive. People, however, are much slower in adapting to change. We also tend to resist change. And the pandemic is requiring that we adapt both quickly and in some pretty dramatic ways. No question that it's difficult. Regularly, I hear someone suggest in response to a COVID-related change in procedures, "Well, that's not how we used to do it." All I can offer back is something to the effect, "That's true, and we may never be able to do it that way again." If the past five months have taught us anything, it's that we can't take things for granted, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

Since we all have to accommodate a new, and seemingly fluid, set of rules, it might be helpful to look at some strategies for adapting to change.

One suggestion I came across is to think things through and consider the worst that can happen. We're often scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown. And a good way to deal with the unknown is to think things through carefully. Imagine all of the different possible outcomes, and then decide what would be the best and worst-case scenarios. While COVID-19 can result in catastrophic outcomes, we know how to stay safe and avoid those outcomes. We simply need to do what we already know how to do.

Another suggestion is to ask ourselves how much we can really control. When a big change occurs, it’s important to figure out how much control we actually have over the situation. Understanding our role and how much we can influence things may help put things in perspective.

Mediators frequently use acceptance and reframing to help clients come to terms with changing circumstances. When the change is beyond our control, we can take a reflective approach, accepting that there are things we simply cannot control. We may not be happy with the change (and that's certainly true with the pandemic), but fighting it won't solve anything either.
Even though it can be tough, celebrating the positives can help. While the positive aspects of a situation might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out, no matter how small they might be. One thing I've certainly noticed in myself as a result of the pandemic is an increased appreciation for the comforts of my home and family.

To address some of the challenges associated with living through a pandemic, we can try some problem-solving techniques, or set some goals to proactively address its demands. Focusing on a specific element, developing a plan of action, and asking for advice can be useful strategies.

I will admit that managing stress can be tough, but improving our capacity to handle stress goes a long way to helping us deal with change. Everything from regular meditative practices to counting to ten before reacting can help.

Finally, ask for support. We all feel overwhelmed right now. Acknowledging that and asking friends or family for help or emotional support can help us feel a bit more connected to others and a little less alone. 

The composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote for one of his characters in the musical Follies, "Good times and bum times, I've seen them all, and my dear, I'm still here." The same is true for each one of us.

Kitchen Angels has had to adapt to many changes over the years and has enjoyed the support of many volunteers through them all. From working out of three different locations to responding to evolving client needs to living through the challenges of a complete renovation of our facility (while still delivering meals), staff and volunteers have always responded with optimism, thoughtfulness and commitment to our mission. The pandemic has certainly presented many new challenges but we're figuring out how to handle them as they come along. As each of us adapts and navigates our new reality, it helps to take a few moments from time to time to celebrate everything we've accomplished.

I remind myself and others regularly, and I believe it bears repeating, this won't last forever. In the meantime, we know what we need to do. Let's keep doing it.

To each of you and the entire Kitchen Angels family, thank you.

In gratitude,
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe, healthy and informed.
You Don't Have to be Symptomatic to be Infectious

Research continues to point out the importance of wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A South Korean study published earlier in August found that roughly 30 percent of those infected with the coronavirus never develop symptoms yet probably spread the virus. “It’s important data,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong. “And it does confirm what we’ve suspected for a long time — that asymptomatic cases can transmit infection.”

As the results strongly suggest that asymptomatic people can be unwitting broadcasters of the virus, the use of facemarks can be an effective tool for containing its spread. “They don’t look any different from the symptomatic population” in terms of how much virus they carry, said Marta Gaglia, a virologist at Tufts University in Massachusetts. “There’s no actual reason to believe that they would transmit any differently.”
Before you return to volunteering . . .
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?
  8. Can I maintain appropriate risk-mitigating practices when I'm not at Kitchen Angels?

If you answer "NO" to any of these questions, you're not ready to return. If you're not sure, check with Lauren.