Is COVID-19 turning the community against itself?


WSPA – While several states in the U.S. have started to lift self isolation orders, we have been hearing from many viewers on how local businesses and communities aren’t following suggested safety guidelines.

While national all the way down to local governments have enacted safety guidelines, it seems society has additionally responded by actively policing itself. Recent data has shown 8 out of 10 Americans support strict shelter-in-place guidelines.

Greenville Clinical Social Worker and Therapist, Suntia Smith, noted no one is above tattling on someone, especially when it comes to safety.

“When we see someone not following the rules, it is innate in us to go tell somebody. Right?” Smith said. “But, what we weren’t taught when we were kids, is the intention behind it.”

“It can’t come from a place where it’s just all about me and me getting ahead, or you taking away something from me. It has to be in a way like I am mutually concerned for your well-being and everybody’s well-being,” Smith said.

John Van Eyk, now a resident of Greenwood, has been working to help communities in his former home state, Arizona.

Van Eyk founded a youth center called Rez Refuge Ministries Inc. on the Navajo Nation Reservation.

Rez Refuge Youth Center

“My heart has never left the Rez. I feel bad at times as I feel like I always have one eye on the Rez and one eye here. I love South Carolina, but my wife and I have so many ties to the reservation, the youth center being one of them,” Van Eyk said. “I’m still on the board and still actively involved with Rez Refuge. Right now I’ve just been trying to help them out by trying to get them resources as far as donations, and get stuff sent to them and that right now.”

He explained that the reservation is over 24,000 square miles, nearly the size of West Virginia. 

Van Eyk has been working with, Rez Refuge Program Director Autumn Hardy to make sure community members get resources like groceries, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment that they need.

He noted that not everyone has to be physically present to make sure those in need get help,

“During this time I feel like we’ve brought more people together and definitely the giving is there and the care is there and the sense of community as well” Hardy said.

She added that if someone is telling on another person, it’s often to keep them safe and possibly get them help. This was especially true during the growing issue of panic buying in the nearby town of Gallup, New Mexico. 

Rez Refuge Youth Center

“Once a few people realized that some of these supplies were very limited. They started to think about the elders in the community. They started to think about a lot of the elders and the families who did not have the transportation to come into Gallup and get any of their supplies. So, I feel like it’s where these relief efforts started,” Hardy said.

Smith added that those who aren’t telling on others, going out of their way to help others, actively protesting against or ignoring all safety guidelines, shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything.

“It may be tempting to go out there and do a kick back and have a good time because staying at home is not easy, ” Smith said. “So, when you’re at home and you’re seeing people out partying. But, then you have to check-in with yourself: ‘If I go is that a risk that I want to take?’ ‘If I go, how am I gonna feel afterwards?’ That’s where we have to weigh our own personal GPS system that says, ‘What is right for me?'”

For Van Eyk, the recent shutdown of Gallup, which borders the Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo reservations, caused him to reach out to his neighbors here in South Carolina for help.

“If somebody is on public assistance, they just got their checks, they’re finally able to go get food and there was no warning whatsoever when they shut [Gallup] down,” Van Eyk said.

Smith said whatever choice you pick — self-isolate, protest, police public safety, or anything in between — it can be draining and anxiety-inducing. But, she said there’s an easy fix. 

“Start off your morning alone, by yourself, to really kind of do whatever.

If it’s listening to music, if its meditating, if it’s taking a walk, whatever it is, just ground yourself before you start the day,” Smith said. “That is one key that you can do to kind of do to keep your anxiety down because how you start the day is pretty much how you’re going to end the day.”

To learn more about how the Rez Refuge Youth Center is dealing with the shutdown, cklick here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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