Older Israelis have a hard time being stuck in isolation leading to rising loneliness and depression, but one company is finding a way to make staying at home a little sweeter. “Sweets for the Soul” began making cakes for older people stuck at home due to health conditions one year ago.
“I always say that 90% of the world’s problems can be solved with a slice of a good cheesecake,” founder Itamar Glazer told The Associated Press.
Every week before Friday sabbath, cakes are delivered to over 1,000 homes. The deliveries remind those stuck at home that they are not alone and someone cares about them. Sara Weinstein is an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor and one of those recipients. She said despite the feelings of past loneliness that the quarantine brings up, her weekly cakes give her hope. “I know that there’s someone thinking of me, I’m not alone in the world,” she told The Associated Press. “There’s someone thinking about sweetening Shabbat.”
As the pandemic spread across Dubai many people lost jobs and many lost work visas. When photographer Paula Hainey was out of work from canceled wedding and maternity shoots, she decided to offer a free photoshoot to families who had to leave the UAE due to the pandemic on social media. Her post blew up with families wanting to capture the life they built after learning they had to leave.
Many of Hainey’s subjects are from the aviation industry. Darrin Chapman, a 49-year-old pilot originally from Greenwich, Connecticut, and his wife are moving back to the states with their daughter after living in Dubai for 11 years. Hainey worked as a pilot for Emirates’ fleet of double-decker Airbus A380s. With his fleet grounded, he had to leave the life he built there and move his family back to the states.
For Hainey, the photoshoots are a way to help others. “Everybody is trying to help during COVID, restaurants are giving food or people are supporting medical staff. This is my way of helping, really,” Hainey told the Associated Press.
Koki Ozora created “Anata no Ibasho,” or “A Place for You:” a Japanese chat-service offering 24-hour text-messaging counseling for those suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts. The nonprofit answers every request and responds to urgent messages within five seconds of receiving it. Ozora created the organization after recognizing the need for mental health support in Japan.
Over 500 volunteers work for “Anata no Ibasho.” They come from Japan and across the globe, allowing 24/7 service to respond to messages late at night when suicide rates are highest. Thirty-two percent of messages deal with suicide while 12% deal with the stress of raising children, making those the two highest discussed topics. The nonprofit has received over 15,000 messages so far, about 130 a day.
Sumie Uehara volunteers for the nonprofit and said it can be difficult providing counseling when all you have to use is a text message. Despite the challenges, simple solutions can help the biggest problems. “You don’t ever negate their feelings or try to solve everything in a hurry. You’re just there to listen, and understand,” she told The Associated Press.
Every year the Stanley Cup, the National Hockey League’s championship trophy, makes its rounds locally in celebration. And though this year was more restricted, there was one place the trophy couldn’t miss: the Children’s Cancer Center.
After the Tampa Bay Lightning won, the team staged a celebration outside of the hospital in Tampa, Florida to ensure safety while still giving the kids a chance to celebrate. The team and the hospital teamed up to create the event. The 90-minute ceremony consisted of mandatory masks, hand sanitizing stations, families waiting in cars and three minutes for families to meet with players and see the Stanley Cup.
For the team, it was a chance to celebrate their victory and cheer up those fighting battles of their own. For the kids, it was a chance to celebrate a hometown win and meet some of the best players. Player Steven Stamkos felt grateful for the opportunity to represent his team. “All those people are going through some really tough times and then you throw a pandemic on top of that,” Stamkos told The Associated Press. “So for the few minutes that each family was around that cup, just to see them just admire it and have fun and take pictures and laugh and smile, it was pretty rewarding.”