Alexandria, VA

The following Letter to the Editor was written by Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker.

As I write this, I sit in the Alexandria Medical Reserve Corps call center in-between calls.

As yet another testament to the commitment and compassion of our residents, we’ve had an additional 500 volunteers join since this crisis began. However, our need for volunteers may continue to grow and if you are able, I would encourage you to sign-up to register and join us. Volunteers are practicing physical distancing and hand hygiene to protect each other during this important work.

It has been almost eight weeks since the City declared a local state of emergency in response to COVID-19. While this is a time of hardship, fear and uncertainty, I’ve seen so many heartwarming actions by our residents coming together as a community in response.

Last month’s Spring2ACTion fundraiser on April 15 — Alexandria’s annual giving day — raised more money from more donors than ever before, securing $2.45 million from 8,450 donors and benefitting 156 local nonprofits who are stepping up to meet the increased need for their services.

Our residents and businesses continue to respond in creative and inspiring ways.

Additionally, the Facebook group Alexandrians Supporting Alexandrians During COVID is connecting residents who need help with groceries and other supplies with others who can provide them. Residents across the city are making masks for grocery store workers, senior living facilities, and nonprofit organizations. And neighborhoods are spreading cheer through inspiring signs, stuffed animal safari hunts, and physically distant birthday celebrations.

There are other actions we can all do to continue to help our neighbors, friends and loved ones:

  • Take a few minutes to create or update a Smart911 profile for you and your loved ones. This provides first responders with valuable information when responding during an emergency.
  • Create positive signs or art to thank essential workers and share messages of gratitude, hope, and solidarity and post photos on social media with the hashtag #SpreadCheerALX.
  • Make sure you’re taking care of yourself during this stressful time. A variety of mental health and wellness resources are available here. Additionally, local fitness studios like Ease Yoga and Sculp’d are offering free online workouts.
  • Support local businesses through the many offerings at ALX at Home.
  • If you’re healthy and able, sign-up to volunteer through Volunteer Alexandria.
  • If you can, donate to one of the efforts listed above or the ACT Now Covid Response Fund to support those in need.

Most importantly, follow the Six Steps to Stop the Spread:

  1. Please stay home as much as possible – it is the most effective thing we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  2. Wash your hands frequently by rubbing them together with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  3. If you must leave your home, do your best to stay at least six feet away from anyone who is not part of your household. Six feet is farther than it feels – it’s about the width of a car or the length of a mattress.
  4. Cough or sneeze into your elbow, rather than your hands.
  5. Disinfect any high-touch surfaces like door handles, phones, and remote controls.
  6. If you must leave your house, wear a cloth face covering if you can’t stay six feet apart from other people. However, wearing a mask is not a substitute for staying home whenever you can, and staying six feet apart from others in public.

Above you will see a photo I took in March while on a long run in the Cameron Station area. I thought that this was an inspiring message, and I appreciate who wrote it. It exemplifies the struggle that we are all experiencing at this time, and also how we will find ourselves on the other side of this crisis.

We’re all in this together, but six feet apart.

ALXnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected] Letters may be edited for content and brevity, at our discretion.

Photo via Elizabeth Bennett-Parker

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