Katherine R. Schwartz is the executive director of Alameda Family Services.
Here We Stand: Coping
As a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, six counties in the Bay Area implemented Shelter in Place on March 16 with most other counties following suit soon thereafter. With the Shelter in Place came skyrocketing unemployment along with disruption to human connection and routine. Children began “home-schooling” and many recently missed experiencing in-person graduation or other important age-related markers. The virus itself has impacted people directly through illness and death as well as indirectly through fear and anxiety.
On June 1, 100 people were arrested in Alameda County for breaking curfew after a 15,000-person, mostly peaceful, march to protest the killing of Blacks by police and the racism of a social and judicial system that protects them.
How do we manage what feels so overwhelming while we are in isolation and cannot utilize our normal coping mechanisms?
The reality is that we cannot do it alone. Here we stand at a key moment in history, separated by disease, politics, racial injustice, trauma, race and class. People are struggling to feed their children and pay their rent while simultaneously trying to manage their grief and rage over what is happening to our country.
For many people this series of crises has consumed their lives, and they are having a hard time coping. As a result domestic violence, substance and child abuse and mental health issues are all on the rise as people of all backgrounds struggle to overcome feelings of helplessness, fear, and anger. While non-profits like Alameda Family Services, Meals on Wheels, Alameda Food Bank, Alameda Point Collaborative and many others strive to deliver needed services, many families and individuals fall through the cracks.
What can we do? This is the question resounding through communities and I can say with certainty that I do not have the total answer, and I am not sure there is one total answer. I do think we have come to a point where every social policy must be based on fostering wellbeing. One thing I can say is that as a White woman leading an agency that is committed to racial, gender, sexual orientation, and class equality I will commit to examining my own biases and strive to have the hard conversations within our agency.
We at Alameda Family Services stand for individual and community wellbeing. Through our services we reach out to help people who feel alone either as a result of COVID-19 or because of discrimination. We are deeply rooted in this community and will continue to look for ways to support all members of the City of Alameda. If you are in need, we are here.