Pandemic silver lining: Dayton organizations lending a hand

The House of Bread, a non-profit community kitchen, has brightening up the Dayton community. Photo of Dayton skyline courtesy of Wikimedia.

Carter Hahn

Contributing Writer

In a world where people everywhere are glued to their television screens dreading the next announcement officials have about the ongoing pandemic, good deeds are always welcome as they brighten the darkest times of our communities. 

An organization that stands as a beacon of hope in the Dayton community is The House of Bread, a non-profit community kitchen. Because COVID-19 crippled businesses and communities, many people were laid off and could not find work. This put an incredible strain on the workers’ financial status, so much so that some may not have been able to put food on the table for their families. Organizations such as The House of Bread, by offering free meals, have made being able to eat affordable. 

Although COVID-19 has affected the operation of The House of Bread, management has adapted the organization to operate in the most effective way possible. Most, if not all, of the meals offered to individuals and families are carryout  and include bottled beverages to ensure the safety of everyone involved, Executive Director Melodie Bennett said. This change in operation certainly did not stop people from going to The House of Bread.

“Each day we serve approximately 180 single adults and 10 families. Approximately 70% of these folks come most days.” 

The House of Bread also offers any items that families and individuals may need. It is not the organization that provides these extra goods, but rather the employees. Bennett said she has witnessed her staff go above and beyond every single day, from buying cold medicine for a sick child and bringing in clothes for someone to simply sitting with someone while they eat lunch so they have someone to talk to. The staff of The House of Bread has no problem going the extra mile to ensure everyone in the community receives the help they need.

“There’s a lady with a walker who has her three grandchildren living with her. Almost every day she pulls up outside and we take meals out to her to take home. She often has a short list with her of extra things she needs, like a gallon of milk, a bag of potatoes, and we’ve learned that she loves pie,” Bennett said.

The House of Bread has not been the only organization to help the community. Dayton Children’s Hospital is running a program designed to put smiles on the faces of their patients. Because of limitations on visitors in the hospital to limit the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak, the children staying there may become lonely as they may not be able to see their family and friends as often as they normally would. To ensure the children that the community was thinking of them and wishing them well, the Dayton Children’s Foundation began their virtual card program early.

Although it was originally started four years ago for virtual Valentine’s Day cards, it became a source of joy and happiness for the children in the hospital during the pandemic, Lexi Kopilchack, annual giving specialist in the Dayton Children’s Foundation, said. It is a safe way that citizens of the Dayton community can let the children know that they are thinking of them and wishing them well.  

Kopilchack said the response from the community has been incredible as the hospital has received over 7,000 virtual cards since the campaign started roughly one year ago. Although Dayton Children’s had no clue what to expect, they were incredibly touched that so many people wanted to spread joy. 

“Kids and families aren’t expecting it, so they are excited to receive something and know that it was sent from a stranger who cares and wants them to feel better.” 

It is always touching to hear about people doing good for their communities, especially during incredibly tough times. But what is it that really drives humans to do good? 

According to Lee Dixon, associate professor and chair of the department of psychology, humans inherently tend to help each other. This helps promote and foster community and creates a stronger social network.    

“Helping others is one way that we are able to contribute to society in a positive way. It’s a little bit like ‘The Golden Rule,’ kind of like do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

Dixon also said humans tend to help things that have a genetic makeup that closely resembles their own. This means that it is in everybody’s DNA to help others when they need it. Even in times of widespread sickness, like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, humans are willing to help other people, perhaps even more so than in times without sickness. This is because the need for help is noticeably more clear. 

When the need for help is more obvious, more people are willing to jump in and help which then inspires others to help as well. Dixon calls this the “bystander effect.” When an individual sees someone doing good and helping, then that individual is more likely to do good themselves. 

Once somebody helps their community one time, they are also more likely to continue to help because the brain has a reward system. Dixon says that helping another individual releases hormones in the brain called endorphins which generates a happy feeling. The brain will crave those endorphins again when they wear off, making the individual more likely to help again. In short, one act of kindness will likely lead to another. 

“During the pandemic, my wife, and this has just been in the last two months, has twice paid for all of someone’s groceries at the store,” Dixon said. “She tries to make it very subtle, but I don’t expect this to slow down for her. I think she will now be on the lookout for who she can buy food for.” 

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