Look for the Helpers

What is a helper? A helper refers to the people who aren’t making the situation worse. In the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would say anyone who isn’t hording toilet paper, but instead is asking those around them what they need would fall under the “helpers” category.

Growing up in the greater sphere of influence of Pittsburgh, PA, I have always held the words of Mr. Rogers sacred. He created a world that let the youngest among us feel welcomed and understood. I know that as a child I felt like no one but Daniel Striped Tiger got who I really was. Mr. Rogers made sure that no matter what was going on, I had a safe place to learn and express my feelings.

Like so many other children around the country, I thought of Mr. Rogers as a friend. Someone I could count on to be there for me everyday. He would let me visit his house and took me to visit my friends in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Timid Daniel, the wise Owl, the ever knowledgeable Dr. Bill Platypus and of course the always wise and fair ruler, King Friday XIII. These were my teachers and friends. They taught me that it was ok to be afraid, as long as we were there to help our friends when they needed us.

The legacy of Mr. Rogers today has grown far beyond what I could have ever imagined. I loved and idolized him as a child, and am happy to say that I can still look back at the man he was and hold him up as one of my all time heroes.

Simply invoking the name of Mr. Rogers can help bring even the most hardened of hearts back to reality in these parts. When something goes wrong I think, “How would Mr. Rogers react to this? Who needs the most help right now?” After answering these questions, I make an action plan and work on spreading the loving calmness that was provided to my life on a daily basis through his show.

After living a lifetime in a world that has worked its hardest to jade me and make me into another griping old person, I am still able to look at the world with a smiling eye and ask people if there is anything I can do to help them. I have found that the lessons that Mr. Rogers taught us about kindness and caring for each other go far beyond the normal everyday life of our families. These lessons were designed to help us become better citizens within our communities, to help the entire country and even the world at large, to be a better place.

The helpers in the world don’t have to be the big ones that we think of like the community organizers and heads of charities. The helpers that make the biggest impact are the everyday helpers who hold the shop door for a mom carrying her kids and their items. It is the impact that the tall young man has when an old bent over lady embarrassedly asks him to grab something off the top shelf and he flashes a smile as he asks if there is anything else he can help her with. More often than not she will smile and say how he reminds her of her late husband and they can share a warm moment between strangers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

~Mr. Rogers

So what is it that draws us to be helpers? Is it the chance that the news crew might see our goods deeds and then we can get a medal from the mayor? Or perhaps the chance for monetary gains from our kind actions? No. Our motivations for being helpers should be pure and discouraging of attention. We should do things to help others without the expectations of a “Thank you,” or other accolades.

What can you do to be a helper in this time of national need?

This is a question that everyone should be asking themselves right now. I asked myself this very question and came up with a few answers.

  1. Ask those who are on the front lines what they need.
    • As some of you know who follow me on social media, my mom asked me to make masks for her and the people she immediately works with in the hospital because they were told to prepare to run out of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). I have almost the entire order ready and am offering to make more for those who need them.
  2. I called around to friends and family in the “at risk” categories and asked if there was anything I can do or get for them. Granted, most of them said no, but at least they know that they can contact Josh and me anytime if the need should arise.
  3. Stay inside.
    • At this point this one should be a no-brainer, but for some reason people are finding this extremely difficult.
      • Take this time you have at home with your loved ones to reconnect and really get to know each other again. Play games and cook meals together. Whatever you need to do, just stay inside.
  4. Follow the orders of your local and state government.
    • This one is hard for me to say because I was raised to be fiercely independent, but I was also raised to keep the greater good in mind as well. Sometimes being a good citizen means following orders to prevent things from getting worse.
    • This does not cover unconstitutional orders, of course.
      • With freedoms come responsibilities, and this is something that seems to be lost on the people of today. The idea of doing something for the greater good at the sacrifice of your own comfort is no longer a valued virtue and it is going to get people killed. No, that is not hyperbole. You could literally get people killed by spreading the virus because, “No one is going to tell you what to do!”
  5. Donate food and meals to those you know are in need.
    • Call your local religious organizations and community centers to see what they are in need of since so many are out of work and school right now.

Remember, being a helper makes the world a better place; one act of kindness at a time. Don’t strive to be the one making headlines. Strive to live a life of giving, not of taking. Live a life you can look back on and say, “Mr. Rogers would be proud of the helper I have been.”

Leave your ideas of how we can all be better helpers in the comments below.


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