Monday, March 23, 2020

The Coronavirus Is Financially Devastating San Antonians. Here's How to Help.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 8:48 AM

click to enlarge Tabitha Garcia-Rogers looks out the door of her vintage clothing shop, Thrash Weave. Even before city council voted to close most businesses for 30 days, she'd seen virtually no customer traffic. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Tabitha Garcia-Rogers looks out the door of her vintage clothing shop, Thrash Weave. Even before city council voted to close most businesses for 30 days, she'd seen virtually no customer traffic.

San Antonians are staying home. 

As well they should. That's key to preventing the coronavirus pandemic from overwhelming our medical system. But that strategy, however necessary, will have economic consequences for our most vulnerable citizens. 

People who live paycheck to paycheck, those reliant on tips, those who create art for a living and those in the gig economy are already taking a punishing financial hit from the changes. It's inevitable that many small businesses — once someone's entrepreneurial dream — will be forced to close.



To lessen the strain, we need to look out for each other, said Christine Drennon, an urban studies professor at Trinity University. We can't just stock up on groceries and ignore our neighbors’ plight. 

“I worry we’re hunkering down, and it’s almost a snowstorm mentality,” she said. “This can’t be an individual-level response. We have to be approaching this as a community.” 

Sure, we’re keeping our distance, but that shouldn’t stop us for offering a virtual helping hand to those suffering financial hardship. Here’s how:

1. Go online and buy from local artists. Many musicians, craftspeople and artists are equipped to sell online, even if they're certainly not able to gig, show or attend craft fairs to bring in income. If you're fortunate enough to have dependable income right now, spread it around. Don’t forget to find them on Patreon and offer contributions there as well. 

2. Buy gift cards for locally owned businesses. The instant you spend money on a gift card or certificate, the business has your money in hand. Be patient, and you can redeem that purchase for a celebratory meal or shopping spree once we’re able to move about safely again.

3. Support charities that keep people fed. Organizations such as the San Antonio Food Bank understand crises like these put big strain on folks unable to earn right now. Those nonprofits need volunteers and donations to keep food on local. They're also assembling coronavirus preparedness kits for low-income households

4. Donate to arts organizations. Museums, galleries and festivals are shuttered all over the community. They’re suffering while they can’t collect entry fees, and so are the artists who rely on them. A nonprofit donation can help these important artistic outlets emerge on the other side of the crisis.

5. Buy season tickets to local venues. Eventually, those postponed plays, musical tours and events will swing back through town. Your contributions now will help theaters and performance spaces keep their doors open through the downturn so they can enliven us all with much-needed arts, culture and entertainment. 

6. Order delivery or takeout from locally owned restaurants. Your orders keep their doors open and workers on the payroll. Your generous tips also go a long way to providing for local families. Don’t forget locally owned breweries and distilleries, which are providing takeout orders through the crisis. 

7. Regularly check in on friends, family and neighbors. Not everyone’s strain — financial or emotional — is readily visible. Just because folks in your circle aren’t sharing their concerns on social media doesn’t mean they’re not struggling. The more we stay in touch and help each other out, the better we’ll be.

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