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Five “Helpers” We Think You Should Meet

Kelly Jones standing with her daughter June.
Source | Ézé Amos  

When a crisis happens, our favorite sweater-vest wearing neighbor, Mister Rogers, told us to always look for the helpers; however, being in a global pandemic made this a little difficult. In the podcast Social Distance Assistance, Kelly Jones and her eight-year-old daughter, June, set out to find brave, creative problem solvers who are supporting their communities in the era of social distancing.

Here are a few of our favorite helpers from the season:

Lisa Woolfork, Professor, Podcaster and Mask Maker 

Lisa's family wearing homemade, matching Easter outfits and masks.
Lisa's family wearing homemade, matching Easter outfits and masks.

Stitch Please was created to support black women in the world of stitchery. It is a podcast that focuses on social justice, black womanhood and all things sewing. After hearing her elderly mother's concerns about leaving the house without a proper mask, Lisa Woolfork used her 20 years of sewing expertise to help others stop the spread of the virus. Woolfork not only made masks for her family and friends, but upon seeing the growing need for them, gave some away as well. 

Episode Article: Meet the Mask Makers 

 

Matt Allen, A Minneapolis Rapper Turned Protest Medic

 

Photo of Matt Allen
Photo courtesy of Matt Allen.

 

Matt Allen is a Minneapolis-based rapper-turned-medic who has organized a volunteer medical force to help save lives at the epicenter of the protests. Prior to the coronavirus, he was rising to prominence as a geek rapper using the name NUR-D. But when protests took place in his hometown over Memorial Day weekend, Matt found himself being called upon to help administer first aid to injured protesters. 

Episode Article: Social Justice Assistance

Rabbi Patrick Beaulier of Kehillah Jewish Congregation

 

Photo of Rabbi Patrick Beaulier
Rabbi Patrick Beaulier photographed by Louise Keeton.

After seeing a meme that said, “I can’t believe Passover is going to be cancelled by the plague,” Rabbi Patrick stepped up. For many, holy days and gathering to worship is more than just a religious experience. It’s also about community. In a time when much of the world is social distancing to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, many are missing out on gathering and sharing meals with their loved ones. Rabbi Patrick of Kehillah, the Jewish congregation located in Richmond, set out to hold a virtual Seder for their community so that people could worship together while apart. 

Episode Article: Keeping the Faith

Darlene Tenes, Food Caravan Organizer 

 

Darlene Tenes in front of a caravan of donated supplies
Darlene Tenes organized a caravan of supplies for farm workers from San Jose to Salinas, California. Photo courtesy of Robert Alberino.

Professional event planner Darlene Tenes found herself out of a job after California instituted the stay-at-home order. She refocused her organizing skills to help migrant farm workers in her San Jose community and coordinated a caravan of food, supplies and protective equipment for these newly deemed "essential workers."

Episode Article: Cultivating Resilience In Our Food System 

Koshin Paley Ellison & Robert Chodo Campbell, Buddhist Monks Sharing Mindfulness Practice 

 

Koshin and Chodo smiling at one another
Koshin and Chodo of the New York Center for Contemplative Care.

Koshin Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Campbell are married Buddhist monks who run the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. They work with frontline healthcare workers and hospital chaplains on mindfulness and meditation practices, guiding them through ways to live in the moment and care for themselves in the midst of this crisis. The insights and techniques they share are things you can apply to support one another and find some peace in our own lives.

Episode Article: Keeping the Faith 

Special Mention: June, the eight-year old co-host and helper

 

June Jones smiling with her headphones on
June Jones, co-host of Social Distance Assistance.

Even though the school year ended, the learning never stops! Kelly Jones, host of Social Distance Assistance, takes on both a podcast and homeschooling her eight-year-old daughter, June. Throughout the series, June and her mom discuss religion, racial inequality, gender identity, positive affirmations and so much more. Not only does she sympathize with guests, but she also asks them heartfelt questions to better understand what they’re going through. In a time where people are protesting for their right to exist, be heard and feel seen, June inspires us to take the time to truly listen to our neighbors. Her playful and friendly demeanor is just an added bonus!