Many are in need of care, she said.
“I think we need it enormously,” Beder said. “I’m administering treatment.”
Beder’s daily 30-minute cello concert in Mount Rainier, Md., is one of hundreds of kind gestures being made by people across the nation to combat the dislocation and isolation brought on by the novel coronavirus.
Teachers have been staging car parades in communities across the country where their homebound students live.
In one Maryland neighborhood, teachers from a neighborhood school staged a 25-vehicle parade.
“They sent us the route and info in advance,” said Stephanie Batchelor, whose two children attend Wayside Elementary School in Potomac, Md.
“The local families stood outside waving and cheering greetings to their favorite teachers,” Batchelor said in an email. “It had us … a little choked up too to see how happy our children were.”
“It was such a bright spot in an otherwise difficult time,” she said.
Similar scenes have played out in Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and many other places.
Restaurants have given away food to employees and passersby, and volunteers are making free deliveries. Sewing and quilting experts have been cranking out dozens of cotton medical masks for hospitals.
Elizabeth D’Antonio, a retired nurse practitioner and costume maker for the Annapolis Opera in Maryland, enlisted a group of 15 people — “one guy and fourteen women” — to make masks for the Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Many already had fabric, she said. And a woman in the quilting guild had just ordered 144 yards of elastic. “She didn’t even really know why,” D’Antonio said. “It was kind of inspired.”
“I used to work [in intensive care units] and I understand how important it is to be protected,” D’Antonio said. She said she texted a local doctor she knew and asked if the hospital needed masks.
She said he replied: “Absolutely. Yes. When can you have some for us? Can you have any?”
“That was Saturday,” she said. “Sunday night I picked up 54.” Tuesday night her team produced 205 more, and by Thursday another 260. The masks are gathered at her house, and taken to the hospital by her friend, Kent Krejci.
She said she has heard that some medical people are reusing masks. “The CDC said just this past week [to] use a bandanna. It’s like, ‘Come on guys!’”
“It feels good to be able to do something,” D’Antonio said. “Because you feel helpless in this whole thing.”
Shilagh A. Mirgain, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, described this as “the ‘tend and befriend’ response, which we are seeing happening around the world.”
“We’re living in unprecedented times,” Mirgain said Thursday. “There’s a lot of fear, anxiety and overwhelm and heartache.”
The normal stress response of flight or fight doesn’t quite work in this case, she said, but people can tap into their natural “tend and befriend” impulse.
“It can actually help us cultivate well-being in the midst of this pandemic,” Mirgain said. “It also spreads hope. There’s so much we can’t control … But the one thing we can control is to … help somebody or offer some kindness or compassion.”
“That is what the virus hasn’t touched, these innate capacities we have as humans,” she said.
Aryn Myers left gift bags and thank you notes for her refuse collectors in her Washington, D.C., neighborhood. She included toilet paper, candy and a VISA gift card.
“They’re as much [on the] front line on keeping us hygienic as a lot of first responders,” she said.
In an Arlington, Va., hardware store, a half dozen customers reportedly launched into an uplifting version of R&B star Otis Redding’s ”(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.”
In Washington’s Dupont Circle, residents of an apartment building have posted notices volunteering to run errands for high-risk people, offering to fetch groceries and other supplies.
Kitson Jazynka, a volunteer at Children’s National Hospital in the District and a writer for the hospital’s foundation, made a video of herself reading a children’s book to send to the youngsters stuck in the hospital.
Unable to volunteer in person because of the virus, she took steps to do so virtually.
“Having visited kids at their bedside … I just have a tiny bit of insight as to what it’s like,” Jazynka said. “It’s hard … on the best day … It kind of makes me sad to think of those kids not having the extra attention … from the volunteers.”
So she recorded herself reading “Sally Goes to the Vet,” about a dog visiting a veterinarian.
In many places, people have been propping teddy bears in their front windows for the entertainment of children on “teddy bear hunts.”
Residents of one D.C. community have displayed inspirational homemade banners, according to Petworth News.
“Everything Will Be OK,” said one. “May the Force Be with You,” said another. “Don’t Give Up,” urged another.
Back on 34th Street in Mount Rainier, Beder, 69, said she started her mini concerts a week ago, with a cello made around 1870 in Prague. “It’s not that old for a cello,” she said.
She is a member of a group called A Musical Heart that provides music for hospice patients. “People who are in any kind of extreme need, music is normally quite a big help,” Beder said.
Now the community is in distress, she said as she sat with her cello on her porch Tuesday. “For me, some of this, playing here, is coming from that,” she said. “We just need all the help we can get.”
She also needed the routine back in her life, “to do something positive, and not just tear my hair out.”
“One of the main things that I’m trying to do here … is break through some of the isolation,” she said. “I … am isolated. We’re all isolated.”
“I wanted to be in the physical space of my neighbors,” Beder said. “My purpose is to connect to other porches and backyards and people on the street, some of whom I know and some of whom I don’t.”
There is traffic noise.
“I don’t mind it,” she said. “Some of the traffic, people roll down their windows, so that’s a plus.”
As she spoke, a homemade sign taped to the porch railing read: “Cello Music Daily @ 4 PM Weather permitting or 11 AM if too hot.”
A native of New York City, Beder has been playing the cello since she was 11. She works as a musician and a copy editor for book publishers.
People began to arrive before she began playing Randy Newman’s song “Old Man.”
“I’m a Randy Newman fanatic,” Beder said.
Her audience is not huge. About a dozen people stopped by Tuesday.
Neighbors Alex Martin, a jazz guitarist, and his wife, Leslie Brice, showed up. “I love it,” Martin said. “This is what musicians need to do … We need it just a little bit less than we need air and food … Especially now.”
Lee Hicks, and her children, Beatrice and Hudson, stationed themselves across the street. “I think the idea that she’s brought music and culture to us in this chaotic state is kind,” Hicks said.
Nearby a woman and her dog sat down by a telephone pole. It was mostly quiet, except for the birds and the traffic.
Beder played Bach.
“I always play some Bach, because we’re cellists, and we do that,” she said. “Bach is one of the only composers who wrote for unaccompanied cello.”
She played the romantic Mexican classic, “Besame Mucho,” a lot.
“How is everybody?” she asked her audience at one point. “Really. Is there anybody here who’s in particular need of some music, like a special need?”
No one spoke up.
So she finished up with the traditional klezmer tune “Gasn Nign.”
As people drifted away, they thanked her, as if for a gift.
She waved from the porch. “It’s what I have to give,” Beder said.
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