Strengthening community bonds during COVID-19 pandemic

Debra Miller, LMHC-P Community Mental Health Counselor, Catholic Charities of Buffalo

“When this pandemic began, I felt as overwhelmed as everyone, and we were all just doing the best we could to figure out a new way of doing what we love most.

“I soon noticed that what was emerging was, and continues to be, a strengthening of the bonds of community. Despite social distancing the people of our community have found creative and touching ways to interact with and support one another.

“Neighbors who only knew each other in passing are checking in with each other; small businesses and restaurants are gaining new customers that are intent on keeping Main Street open. Churches are coordinating new and safe ways to worship together. Online groups are forming to identify and quickly meet the needs of every family and individual. High school seniors are celebrated in a new way. Encouragement and support in the form of food, masks, flowers and more are delivered to hospitals, nursing homes, first responders, grocery store staff, and other essential employees every day. All types of human service agencies are working even more closely together to ensure that there are no needs unmet.

“I could go on listing all the amazing acts that have come out of the pandemic, right here in our county. I am humbled and encouraged to be just a small part of this movement. It fills me with energy every morning, and I anticipate how I will witness love that day and in what way I will return that love to my community. Every interaction is an opportunity to keep building and making stronger our community.

“When we have moved past this crisis and are working to return to ‘normal,’ my hope is that we hang on to these new bonds and that we continue to find new ways to show love to one another.”