Saturday, March 02, 2024

Remember to 'look for the helpers'

by Michael Wells Of Tribune
| March 31, 2020 12:00 AM

Mr. Rogers, the late children television show host, told children to look for the helpers in times of crisis, just as his mother told him to do.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’ ” Fred Rogers famously said. “To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers; so many caring people in this world.”

The coronavirus continues to infect and kill people around the world. Cases of the virus, and deaths, have recently come to north central Idaho and eastern Washington. The response to stop the spread of COVID-19 places great strains on the economies of the world, nation, state, city, businesses and households.

It is natural to need help and comfort as the entire world charts an unknown course by shutting everything down except what is deemed essential.

Helpers are all around, from doctors and nurses, mental health providers, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, firefighters and law enforcement. But the pandemic has brought out helpers from all walks of life.

In the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, there are many helpers who are offering assistance and help when and where they can, reminding everyone as often as possible that we are all in this together.

Christine Jorgens, a local teacher and mother of four, saw that she would soon be homeschooling her own children and virtually teaching her students as the realities of the coronavirus closures and emergency orders set in.

Jorgens started LC Valley Quarantine Support on Facebook. The public group has grown to more than 5,000 members in about two weeks.

“I just thought maybe it would be helpful to start something,” Jorgens said. “Each of us can rally together and look out for each other.”

The site allows users in the area to post news about the coronavirus, though Jorgens and her friend, Amanda Gill, administer the site and now approve posts to weed out nasty comments and fear-inducing posts with no facts behind them. The goal of the site is to keep it kind and not sell things. Members of the group can donate or trade items.

Members often post about trips to various stores and report on whether there was toilet paper and other hard-to-find products that were hoarded early during the pandemic. The site also has a lot of hilarious memes posted by its ever-growing community.

The site also allows for members to post about their personal experiences in seeking a coronavirus test from local health care providers.

Jorgens posted about her own experience with her son last week, who was unable to secure a test, she said, because he hadn’t traveled to a densely populated area that is affected by the pandemic or come into contact with someone who is infected.

Jorgens posted an update to the group Sunday about her own trip to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center. She was experiencing severe chest pain, shortness of breath and a nagging cough. She got an X-ray to make sure pneumonia was not setting in, but knew she would not receive a test because, when the x-ray was clear, she was not admitted to the hospital.

Other helpers in the area include:

The Lewiston Independent School District, through special U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, is currently providing more than 450 take-away lunches at Sacajawea and Jenifer junior high schools and McGhee Elementary to any child under the age of 18, Lewiston School District Food Service Supervisor Jodi Hoff said.

The lunches are offered Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and walk-up and curbside service are provided. Menus can vary from site to site depending on what meals are available, but the district is working on a two-week cyclical menu, Hoff said.

Steve Button retired from the Lewiston Independent School District last year. He used to lead a crisis team in the district for many years.

Button advises that people make sure they get their news from a trusted news source and not rely on social media. Button also advises that when people get the news about COVID-19 that they “don’t dwell on that stuff. Eat healthy, get rest, exercise, get out for a walk and keep in touch with family members.”

There are a number of resources people can turn to for support, Button said.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has established the Idaho COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-330-3010. The hotline provides anonymous and confidential assistance for all, no matter the situation.

Button also wants Idaho residents to know that the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 2-1-1 or (208) 398-4357 is ready to provide help for anyone, not only those contemplating suicide. The hotline can also be reached by text. The Idaho Care Line can be reached at 2-1-1 or on the internet at Optum Idaho Member Crisis Line can be reached at 1-855-202-0973 and at

Button also wants parents and students to know that Lewiston school counselors such as Christine Cahill at the high school, Alisha Pope at Sacajawea and Sarah Albrich, an elementary counselor, are available and a resource for students to turn to during the pandemic.

The Lewis-Clark State College Emotional Support Line began at 8 a.m. Friday. The line is open to students and members of the community to receive emotional support from volunteer social work students. The support line can be reached at (208) 792-2866.

“If you’d like to talk to a trained individual about loneliness, stress, anxiety, worry or anything else, please call and leave a message,” Lewis-Clark State College Social Work Program Director LaChelle M. Rosenbaum said. “I’m anticipating calls from people who are trying to manage new routines, financial stressors, loneliness, anxiety, depression, fear and so much more.”

Another counseling option is Clarkston’s Dragonfly Counseling, which is offering short-term therapy via “telehealth,” said Andrea Charles. The service can be found at

The federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has established the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 that provides immediate counseling to people affected by the pandemic.

Specialists are trained to assist callers who have a range of symptoms, said Christopher Garrett, SAMHSA senior press adviser. The helpline immediately connects callers to trained professionals from the closest crisis counseling centers in the nationwide network of centers.

People can also text “talkwithus” to 66746 to receive help.

Wells may be contacted at or (208) 848-2275.