After a year of Covid-19, we have found how much what we do affects others.
Whether it is wearing a mask to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, or reaching out to comfort someone in isolation; in a year when our connections have been strained, we’ve learned just how important those connections are.
This is true in dealing with the pandemic’s economic fallout, too.
Many in our community are hurting because of Covid, and they need help.
Consider this: More than a half million fewer people in Illinois were employed in January compared with a year earlier, an 8% drop; in Iowa, 77,400 fewer people are employed, a 5% decline.
It's true that unemployment rates have improved, but this simple statistic doesn’t truly capture the damage to our economy.
In the Quad-Cities alone, 15,000 people were no longer in the labor market in December when compared with a year earlier. Just where did those people go? How are they getting by?
A Pew Research Center survey, conducted last fall, said half the people who had lost work due to Covid were still unemployed.
There are other impacts, too.
Students have been separated from their peers and teachers, with studies showing their educational progress suffering as a result.
Mental health has worsened. The list goes on.
However, there are ways we all can help. Charitable organizations around the Quad-Cities are reaching out to help those in need, and they need us.
One of the major charitable organizations in our community is United Way Quad Cities. The United Way has set a goal of $7.5 million for its annual community campaign, up from the $7.1 million raised last year, and officials told us the other day they haven’t yet met this year's goal even though they are trying to do so by the end of the month.
We hope Quad-Citians will be generous in helping out.
Over the last year, United Way has assisted about 100 organizations and 62,000 people. The non-profit reaches into all facets of the community, but it also has made special efforts in the area of equity, and to have an impact on health care disparities, family well-being and education.
"Our students have been isolated, put in positions where their educational journey has been totally altered," said Jabari Woods, associate director of human resources and equity at the Davenport School District and a tri-chair of the United Way's annual community campaign.
Devoting resources to helping these students is vital.
As you might expect, requests for funding are up this year, even as charitable organizations face greater obstacles to raising money.
Which makes it all the more important that we step up.
The pandemic has affected all of us, but its devastation has not been spread evenly. Those who were struggling before last year have found how much a worldwide pandemic, laid upon their existing challenges, has made their lives even harder.
We have a chance to help.
We know there are people who recognize this. On occasion, this newspaper will receive a letter from someone who took their stimulus check from the government and, finding themselves more fortunate, decided to help those who aren’t as blessed.
This impulse toward generosity is one of the greatest things about living in the Quad-Cities.
It is an impulse we will need in the days and months ahead. Even when we’re no longer wearing masks.