Want to Feel Useful? Here’s How

feel useful

I don’t have any masks in my house. I am not a healthcare professional. My job is not as an essential worker.

In these times of crisis, it can feel like you don’t have a way to help. I know I have had those moments of thinking I can’t do anything to make a difference. We may be right, at least not on a large scale. But the truth is, differences made on a small scale can have a huge impact.

If you are like me, you may be looking for a way to help.  There is always the obvious option to Donate. This can be to the many organizations that are working on a cure or vaccine. To a non-profit that is focused on feeding those who need it. Or even to your local foodservice or family-owned hotel that will struggle to survive this.

I get that right now, people are not feeling financially secure (me either). This may not be the way for you to help. When I was younger and couldn’t afford to give, I used to volunteer. That is not really an option either. It’s OK if this one doesn’t feel right for you. There are other ways to help.

For me, I thought about what skills I have that would be useful right now. My way to contribute… (I hear a drumroll in my head)

  • Coaching for Heroes. I am thrilled to have joined a group of global coaches offering free coaching to health care workers during this crisis. I haven’t been matched yet, but I look forward to supporting these heroes. If you are one, you can be matched with a coach here.
  • Help With Virtual Learning And Connecting. This is what made me feel useful. I am very familiar with zoom and other online platforms. After all, it was over a decade ago that I taught a course to the top business schools in the country called Creating Interactive and Engaging Webinars. So I reached out first to the local non-profit that runs our after school tutoring. Both of my kids tutor struggling students and I thought it would be great for them to continue this during the lockdown. I helped them pick a platform, explained how they can still “supervise” the groups through breakout rooms, and offered to teach a program on how to use the functionality. I am thrilled to say, the program is back up and running! I also reached out to my school’s superintendent and offered to conduct virtual training for the faculty on the use of Zoom to create office hours and simulate a live environment on the platform. They haven’t taken me up on it (yet), but making the offer still makes me feel like I am supporting my community in a small way.

If your company wants a training or coaching on Leading Virtual MeetingsManaging Virtual EmployeesLeading in a Crisis, or wants to create professional development for at home staff, I am here to help. The truth is, many topics play well in the virtual environment and can make your team feel productive.

So what are the ways you can help? Think about the needs in your community or the resources you may have at home. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Join a Board: BoardAssist is hosting a Virtual Nonprofit Board Fair on April 15th to support nonprofits who are getting clobbered by COVID 19.  Learn more here.
  • Make Masks. My son’s chorus teacher has a 3D printer and found the pattern for making masks online. He is now organizing a whole team of kids in the school who also have the printers to make masks.
  • Shop For Neighbors. Our community has multiple people and organizations coordinating shopping for those unable to go to the store. A list is given over the phone and bags are dropped off with minimal to no contact.
  • Make Calls. Our temple (and I am sure other groups) are checking in on those that live alone. They have an online form for people to sign up to make or receive calls. My mother called to tell me how lovely it was to hear from someone other than me! Don’t worry mom, I didn’t take that personally.
  • Donate Stuff. I may not have masks, but I have other stuff. I have a drawer full of bandannas that may come in handy. I have extra paper towels. I just had a non-profit ask for a donation of my books to raise money. We all have things that can be useful to someone.

As I was writing this post, I received an email. I asked if she was doing anything to help in a small way (wanted to share her example with you). Here is the exchange:

Reader: “Sure Michelle, however, I believe I can do better. Maybe with a few words of encouragement as well.”

Me: “Your words of encouragement are to give yourself credit for what you can and are doing rather than criticizing yourself for not doing enough.”

So give yourself credit for whatever it is you are able to do and receive the assistance that others are able to offer.

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