Meet some local people who stepped up with acts of generosity and compassion during the COVID-19 pandemic

Acts of kindness

The worst of times has brought out the best in many local residents

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Virtual therapy

Marjorie Kreppel’s elderly parents were living in downtown Bethesda, and after the pandemic started they received an email from a young woman they did not know. I’m healthy, she wrote, and I’m happy to buy your groceries. “I was inspired by that,” says Kreppel, founder of The

Counseling Center of Maryland in Bethesda. “So I got together with my group and said, ‘Why don’t we do something?’ ”

She and her staff offered a free online therapy session for folks struggling with the emotional fallout from social isolation. “This is a really difficult time for people,” Kreppel says. “We were already struggling before all of this with an epidemic of loneliness. We have so many more connections than we’ve ever had, yet they are so much less meaningful, and now all of a sudden the physical connection is taken away. It’s a scary, scary time.”

Kreppel started with one session for 30 people and four therapists, exchanging suggestions and coping strategies. “We all got together afterwards,” she recalls, and said to each other, “this is working, this is helping people, we had great feedback.” So the center set up a regular schedule, offering free one-hour Zoom sessions three mornings a week to anyone in the community.

The therapists share some key takeaways. “Get outside every day, even if it’s raining, preferably a couple of times a day,” Kreppel says. “We’re not trapped in our houses, we just can’t be in physical contact with other people.” Equally critical is to stick to a routine. “Get up and do whatever you do. Do your exercises, still take a shower, still start your day. It feels better.” Kreppel says offering the sessions sends a message to the lonely and isolated: “You’re not in this alone.”

“One of our loyal customers, Christina Gross, cancelled her appointment earlier this week due to Covid-19 fear and popped by yesterday to give the stylist, Sharice Pina, a $40 tip without getting a service. We felt this was a very kind gesture from a very kind individual. We truly have a great professional clientele, but this was above and beyond the usual normal niceness we were accustomed to. I feel a time like this calls for this kind of humanitarian love.” —Bruce Johnson, owner Avatar Salon & Wellness Spa, Silver Spring

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