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I’m new to my neighborhood so I was pleased when a girlfriend asked me if I’d be on a task force to help protect our neighborhood from the vicious COVID-19. A good way to meet new neighbors I thought. Pull neighbors together just in case COVID strikes close to home. I was grateful when she asked me to lead the task force, since I enjoy the challenges of leadership. Personal. Lighthearted.

We live in a quiet superb of Oakland, California. News reports are worrisome but death is still distant to me. As always, I expect it to avoid us.

Emails soon began to fly among our task force of six serious women. Suddenly reports of horrific shortages of gloves, masks and other protective gear, at local hospitals, fill the air. Not in Iran. Not even New York. OUR local hospitals. OUR own personal friends are on the front line of medical care unprotected! Basic masks, nowhere to be found. Overused scrubs are toxic.

Are our hospitals becoming hotbeds of the deadly virus?

I feel helpless and angry when an email arrives from a savvy girlfriend in tech. She’s learned from a nerdy girlfriend about a source of 3M masks that made it out of China before the shut down of such shipments. Three of us quickly pool savings to buy what we can. We get a good deal. We secure 35,000 masks.

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We only learn how critically urgent this is when our three local hospitals call to say they’ll personally drive to pick up the masks from my garage. Do we know when they’ll arrive? There’s no time to lose. They literally have no masks until they get our relatively small donation.

The shipment still hasn’t arrived from its east coast port of entry. Our hospitals will be the first to know when they do.

We take a minute to breathe easier. It’s not much but now we know we have the power to make a difference. We’re energized to do more.

I hope you’ll look around your neighborhood, your community. What do you see that needs your help? No effort is too small. Our small, medium and big efforts are what will win this war!

On a local level, what do you see that needs support? Please share your ideas with us.