Dear people of Grace,
A lot has happened in the past two months, as we have become part of a coronavirus — or COVID-19 — pandemic that has changed our lives. Governor Pritzker has declared a state of emergency and issued a “shelter in place” order for Illinois. Grace Church has cancelled all public worship and programs; the building is closed and the staff is working from home.
Watching the news can be quite unsettling with new, and often conflicting information and opinions presented daily. Shopping, travelling, and socializing produce anxiety. If we are members of groups at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness (people over 60 or with an existing medical condition), the risk for isolation is high. Families with children at home (and this includes high-school and college-age offspring as well as young children) or people who live alone may feel bored, isolated, and stressed.
How do we cope with this, both practically and emotionally? Let’s remember that we are still Grace Church. We are still here for each other — even if we need to stay six feet away from one another, or if we are members of the risk groups that have been told to stay home.
Here are some ideas, resources and links that I hope will be helpful to you as we all stay connected and care for one another.
Technology. Thank goodness for technology, which enables us to stay connected with each other. I commend to you the wonderful worship services livestreamed from our sanctuary on Sundays and Wednesdays. I was online on Sunday for the worship service and seeing how many people were worshipping with me (more than 150 viewers at one time!) was very meaningful.
Talk to one another. Another very important thing that you can do for yourself and for others while we are cooped up at home is to reach out. Let's use those phones for their original purpose — to TALK to each other. Call others in the congregation to check in, especially anyone you know who lives alone or may be feeling especially stressed or isolated during this time. Call your friends and relatives to catch up. Plan a time to connect with family members via Facetime or Skype or whatever method you use, perhaps over dinner or a favorite TV show. My husband and I met with our book club via Google Hangout this weekend. While it was not quite the same as meeting in person, it was great to see everyone and talk.
Oak Park Township has a COVID-19 Senior Task Force, available to seniors in Oak Park and River Forest. Read this for more information about care management, transporation, etc. The phone number for township senior services in Oak Park and River Forest is 708-386-8060.
Forest Park. The Howard Mohr Senior Center is closed, but is still running the food pantry. They are providing transportation for seniors to necessary medical appointments and are working on a plan with the local grocery store to have a designated day for the seniors to go shopping. Seniors in Forest Park should call the center at 708-771-7737 if they need assistance and someone will work with them to try to find a solution.
Other local governments may be providing similar assistance. Call your local government office for more information.
Grace Church volunteers. Grace Church is compiling a list of volunteers who are willing to be available to answer needs such as grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions. If you feel that this is something that you can do, please send me an email at or leave a message at 708-366-6900 ext. 219. I’ll add your name to the list of volunteers and reach out when a need arises. Many thanks to all who have already offered to help.
If you have a need that friends or family cannot help you with, reach out to me and we will problem-solve together. I check my voicemail daily. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.
I am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as together we care for one another.
Yours in Christ,
Pat Gulik RN
Here are some links to great online resources:
Loyola Medicine Coronavirus Preparedness. Watch the videos "Practical Tips for Staying Positive During COVID-19" and "What to Do If You Are Sick."
Advocate Aurora Health Enews. Regular updates, including videos from the CDC and the Surgeon General.
Coronavirus Resources for Illinois. Resources for families and children, health and wellness, support and social services, and how you can help,
Feelings and thoughts about social distancing. Tips for coping and supporting yourself.
Emotional Resiliency. Positive action you can take when you're feeling uneasy and anxious.