"I cannot do all the good the world needs. Yet, the world needs all the good I can do."
Challenges have a way of bringing out the best in us, but it can be hard to look past grim headlines and stark realities to see the good.
That's why the Purpose 360 Podcast team pivoted to create a special series called Humanity at its Best. In this series, host Carol Cone and co-host Kristin Kenney spoke with guests of all ages from around the world. Each had taken action to bring hope, joy and kindness to their families, communities, and countries in response to COVID-19.
Humanity at its Best features stories of everyday people doing extraordinary things. From Prague to Walnut Creek, California, and ages 8 to 80, guests shared untraditional approaches to giving back: writing letters of companionship, building give/get matching platforms, extending healthcare services, and so much more. Here are a few of our favorite insights.
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
1. Humanity relies on selfless acts
"Our humanity is found in how we behave in moments of crisis and how we level the playing field. When I'm talking to people that want to be engaged in the work that we're doing, whether crisis relief or otherwise, it's to really think deeply about why you do this, and how much of yourself are you willing to give, and how much are you willing to challenge yourself about the ideas around volunteering or getting involved?"
Dana Rachlin leads NYC Together, which engages in direct service, advising and policy work in New York City, with a focus on social justice for youth.
2. We will all re-learn the art of empathy
"The biggest piece of this, that I draw a lot of hope from, is that people are going to look at the world with a little bit more empathy. Everybody now understands that seniors are really at risk, and so are cancer patients, and so are people with other types of comorbidities, and other complications."
Tom Masterson's company Caregiver Support Technologies uses a village-based community care model to match caregivers and healthcare workers with people who can provide help.
3. Giving can be uncomfortable. That’s okay.
"I think a lot of people stay out of nursing homes because they're selfish. It's tough when you're walking by someone and they're non-verbal and they want to hold your hand and try to talk to you, and it's uncomfortable for you. I'm always telling people you've got to get past that selfishness and just go visit with your little bit of extra time. Go visit someone for 20 minutes, to let them know they matter."
Sandy Cambron and Shannon Blair founded Pearl's Memory Babies to provide Alzheimer's patients with baby dolls to provide comfort and companionship. During the height of COVID-19, Shannon and Sandy provided dolls to vulnerable elderly individuals facing isolation.
4. Innovation is not just what you make, but what you make possible
"This is just one small project. There's so many people doing amazing things out there to help hospitals in their individual communities. Really, the thing we were trying to solve is, what's the tool that anyone can use anywhere to ask for help, if they don't have those resources in their personal network? We just want to make this available to people who need it."
Keith Weissglass and his team created HospitalHero in two weeks to provide healthcare workers with a hub to request and find help.
5. Even the smallest acts make a difference
"We heard a story from one of our medical professionals, who had gotten a delivery from their volunteer. Included in that delivery was a potted plant, a thank you gift from the volunteer to the medical professional, to say, 'Here are your groceries, but I wanted to give you something else to draw strength from and remind you there are people out there that care for you, and for what you're doing.'"
Elloitt Charbonneau and Luca De Blasis created GroceryHero in 24 hours to help their community get groceries and other essential goods safely.
6. Rally a community around your cause
"The playing field has been leveled. We can really live our lives in different ways than we thought. If we're able to act on the best of that coming out of this, it could really transform the way that we interact with each other and interact with our communities which could be pretty exciting."
Jennifer Galdes and Sean Lynch created Dining at a Distance to aggregate open restaurants in communities around the world, helping eateries stay open and in business.
7. Honesty and vulnerability build the strongest relationships
"One of the things that I talk about with my team every morning is just how are you guys feeling? And I will tell you that what I hear more often than not is, ‘I'm so happy that I can still be here.’ So they appreciate that, and I think our employees see what we're doing. They see the impact of our efforts. They hear these clients' stories, they hear how much they're struggling right now, how scared they are, and I think it just feels really good to be able to give them a little bit of peace of mind, to let them know that we're here to support them."
Brittny Ferguson is a branch manager for U.S. Bank in San Diego. U.S. Bank responded to COVID-19 with $30 million in relief and comprehensive employee and community support services.
8. Our differences are what make us a stronger society
"Every impact that we can make, even small, is still an impact on at least one person's life. So proving to the world that no matter who you are, you do have the ability to make an impact is something that I think we should really advocate for. I think a lot of times, society finds easy ways to push a certain group down so that more opportunities are available for another group, whether it be the gender gap, or even racism, or any of those things.”
Avanti Ramraj, a member of the FIRST Robotics team Thunderbots, which created face shields and masks for local healthcare workers.
And finally: Don’t sit on the sidelines of change. Humanity depends on it.
"We imagine a world where everyone is engaged, where no one is sitting on the sidelines. Where just like you have a name, you have an issue or a cause that you're passionate about, that you're knowledgeable about. That you share the impact with people that you know, where everyone is in the game around the world. And that's in the game of doing good, helping others, and solving really important social problems."
Natalye Paquin, CEO of Points of Light, the nation's leading service and volunteering nonprofit. Points of Light partnered with Purpose 360 to co-produce Humanity at its Best. To learn more, visit PointsofLight.org.
To listen to all Humanity at its Best episodes, visit Purpose360Podcast.com.