(If this is your first Ava Ramblings installation, click here for blog 1 or blog 2 to catch up!  Spoiler Alert for those who just want to keep reading: Jaymie and Rory’s unborn daughter is Ava…due in June)

Dear Ava,

It’s been a crazy week as we near our third trimester together.  The Coronavirus has gripped our nation, crashing our financial markets, closing down the NBA & March Madness, postponing Spring Training for baseball, darkening Broadway, and even infecting America’s Sweethearts Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. 

So after this crazy week, and as we all take a step back and self quarantine, it makes me think… how long will this last? What can we still do NOW that’s in our control? And yes, ok selfishly: why can’t a pregger get toilet paper anymore? 

It’s clear– we need to collectively take a deep breath, slow down, and take control where we can.

Here are some scary, worst-case-scenario numbers by New York Times recently: 160-214 million potential infections in the US, with between 2.4 to 21 million Americans requiring hospitalization. This will cripple our hospitals’ capacities– which has only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds. So let’s slow down the spread and give our healthcare and other needed professionals time to prepare. 

And yes ok, no doubt we should have acted sooner. More control over international flights.  More scanning crowds for high temperatures. More testing kits readily available. More hospital beds and respiratory equipment. More contingency plans for our schools and businesses.  More internet access, particularly in rural America. More telehealth options. More private sector cooperation. More real data. Less fake and/or politicized ‘news’. But we all know this. And enough about ‘what else we should have done’.  My pregger brain is now on this: what’s in our power TODAY- and what we can do on the community level- to help buy our health care, educational, telecom and other key critical professionals more time to get things under control?

So this letter is for our unborn baby girl Ava – and all our children out there, who are waiting for us to have the adult answers. 

This is where we dig in and inspire with the real truth: This Too Shall Pass.  And now is the time for neighborly love, human compassion, and togetherness as a community.  Let’s do what we do best: rise in strength and with creativity and resourcefulness. This is when we Walk Tall and Carry a Big Belly. 

So first step– take stock in what you got.  So here at JSA, we are thankfully already virtual. We already have our VPNs, collaborative tools, video chat programs, virtual project planning tools, you name it, to be a highly successful workforce from home. 

Next, what do we need? In full disclosure, our biggest first issue brewing here at JSA is this: what about the kids who are now home from school indefinitely?   If mommy doesn’t get her Room of Her Own, how do we deliver on the quality care and attention our clients need, particularly now?

So what do we have in spades here– and what can we share with others in need? CREATIVITY! And teenagers apparently!  So introducing Next Gen JSAers’ Creativity Hour– where our older JSA high schoolers read, sing, craft etc. for an hour every few days with our younger ones in a virtual classroom environment. The goal: provide a healthy, creative avenue for our Next Gen JSAers while giving JSA parents a little time to get work done.  One of their first remote gatherings will be dedicated to creating art and crafts for local nursing homes, to send a little virtual love and encouragement for some of our older generations who are not able to receive visits from loved ones right now.

Meanwhile, I am seeing beautiful acts of kindness everywhere.  My friend Gina told me about her sister in the grocery store, who had taken the last 2 packages of toilet paper off the shelf.  She saw a woman in the aisle, looking for some rolls. She gave her the other package. When the sister went to checkout, the woman had already paid for all of her groceries, as a way to thank her for her generosity.  

When I shared these stories with Dean, a JSAer for the past 10 years here, he mentioned his new local facebook group he started, dedicated to recognizing the small beautiful acts of kindness in his neighborhood.  He crafted a logo and facebook header with his designer friend, calling the project “We See You”.  They are encouraging other communities to utilize the artwork and start their own local groups honoring their unsung heroes, such as nurses, doctors, drivers, grocery store attendants, and let’s not forget the data center and telecom techs who are still showing up to keep our Internet up and running.

And of course who is not moved to tears when Barcelona bursts out in spontaneous cheers and applause from their balconies at 10pm at night to show gratitude for their healthcare professionals.

So whether it’s a teen-led arts and crafts hour, or letting your neighbor know that his/her kindness has been appreciated, now is the time to fight fear with endless human hope and creativity.  

So little Ava, like with any challenge, we can get through this together, as a family. Because right now is when we lead by example, and even the smallest acts of kindness can move the world.