Coronavirus kindness: San Franciscans using 'Unity lights', other ways to uplift community

ByLauren Martinez via KGO logo
Thursday, March 19, 2020
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During a time of social distancing and self-isolating, San Franciscans are finding ways to help one another feel like we're in this together.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- During a time of social distancing and self-isolating, San Franciscans are finding ways to help one another feel like we're in this together.

In San Francisco's Sunset District, Diane Ngo was handing out flyers from a group called the Sunset Neighborhood Help Group. They offer services like picking up medications, getting groceries, or offering a ride to a nearby place for the elderly or unable.

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The flyer says 'You are not alone in this!' and leaves a phone number at the bottom. (415)212-8770.

Ngo says the group got the idea after a lot of people were posting on the website NextDoor offering to help one another. "A lot of the seniors are not really on social media," Ngo said.

She said this gives her an opportunity to get to know her neighbors as well.

"It's also a good opportunity for me to know them, for me to reach out to them. And for all of us to help each other so we can get through this," Ngo said.

Mahat Papartassee is the owner of Vanida Thai Kitchen off Taraval and 41st Street. He posted on NextDoor that he picked up extra rolls of toilet paper at a warehouse and will hand out a couple of rolls to customers or people in the neighborhood that really need it.

"As a restaurant, we still have access to these supplies. Just a little gesture, that shows that we're still connected," Papartassee said.

In Nob Hill, Le Beau's Market is offering a grocery delivery service to those that are either unable to shop or too concerned to shop in public.

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"Because of what's happening we feel like we need to extend our hands even further," Alexander Omra said. Omra's father has been running the neighborhood market since the mid-1980s.

"Everybody is stepping up. The response has been overwhelming as to how many people that have asked us if they could help," Omra said.

Kathleen So is a Nob Hill resident and volunteered to drop off groceries.

"I'm young and healthy, and I'm still taking proper precautions of course but there's a lot of people who have kids, elderly or not able and are afraid to come to the store. We don't know how long this is going to last, I'm not a doctor- I don't have a cure but I can at least help deliver groceries," So said.

Neighborhood Empowerment Network was inspired by Italians singing to one another on their balconies, they thought of a way San Franciscans can feel hope and sense of community. It's called "The Unity Light in the Night," people can turn on a lamp and put it in their front window every night starting at 7 p.m.

Ben Matranga is a member of Resilient West Portal Neighborhood Association. He says having his light in his front window is a simple way to feel connected during a time of social distancing.

"This is a way we can kind of give the thumbs up and let everyone else know on our block that we're all in it together. We know this is going to be awhile. I think the more we can remind each other that we're all in this together- that it's a marathon, and every day we can step forward and help each other out. That's what gets us through this," Matranga said.

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