5 Ways To Help While Feeling Helpless

All we do is help... and we've had to close our doors.

Are you stuck at home and feeling helpless like us? How can we support our community while being confined to our homes?  There are over 1300 children in Hamilton alone who rely on nutrition programs at school for their daily meals, and our beloved Food4Kids who work tirelessly to support those children by providing them with food to get them through the weekends.  So while you are wondering how you’re going to balance an 8 hour work day from home with three children suddenly in need of “lessons” and hoping your marriage can survive the sudden isolation… they are wondering where the teacher is who pushes the cart every morning with the bananas and granola bars on it… That teacher, well, she’s at home desperately trying to get up enough energy to shower through her heart ache, while attempting for one second to stop thinking about all of the children she was unable to feed today.  We see you, we see all of you, the stressed, the worried, the scared, the overwhelmed, the hungry, the homeless, the population of domestic abuse victims globally locked in their abusive environments, even the content introverts and empathetically, the small business owners. We see each other, but we have lost the ability to help as simply and naturally as we are accustomed to. So, we turn inward, get creative and find new ways to help while feeling helpless. Here is our personal locally compiled list of 5 ways you can help this community or any community for that matter, from inside the comfort of your own home…

Here Is Rock Paper Scissors Company’s

5 Ways To Help While Feeling Helpless:

1. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: We all know our favourite restaurants have closed their dining rooms, we know they are offering take out and delivery both through third party drivers and services.  We have all had the time to read the updates, the shares and the posts. Yes, we can still “go out for dinner” from the comfort of our homes, but are we truly considering what this means for the people on the other side, or are we still just after that quick, convenient and comfortable last minute fix?  Here in Crown Point over the past four years, I don’t think we can begin to count the number of restaurants we’ve seen come and go. First, that abandoned shop gets paper in the windows and we point to our partner as we drive by “Ohh, something new is coming!” Time goes by, we watch workers come and go from the newly installed door and then the whispers begin to spread. “It’s going to be vegan!” “It’s an upscale trendy place!” “A food truck!” “A beer hall!” “A hot sandwich counter!” and then the day comes, it's open!  We see people posting photos of the food, we keep driving by and chatting about it. The word begins to spread on the playground, your friends have gone and liked it. Recommendations are popping up on the neighbourhood Facebook page and then BOOM, it hits you. You drive by again, and it’s gone, the paper is back and the sign is down and a sinking feeling hits you from your heart down to your stomach as your brain begins to recall how many Spicy Perogy Pizzas you ate in the last 6 months because you have the BP. Kids Eat Free Card.  That family needed you, they needed you to survive, they worked around the clock designing, getting permits, watching their outstretched budget get thinner and thinner, they even bought balloons they couldn’t afford to put outside on opening day… Where were you? Two booths down from us, the small business owners who spend Monday nights getting the kids from school to swimming to fast free dinner at BP in hopes that we have enough time to make it to our 7pm workout class. It’s time for us to consider them, support them and protect them, right now more than ever they are asking, Where are you?  So, next time you decide you’re going to dial a number for a quick fix dinner, we hope you consider the future of our neighbours and their dreams.

Jude & Peter, husband & wife owners of Ottawa Street’s Poke Co. are feeling the pressure of the shutdowns. Their vibrant and oh so cool dining room, home to brightly coloured wall paper and six adorable two seater tables has closed. No one is snacking on their bins of free sour candies that span across their counters. None of the usual back and forth we hear from our two top, when a customer pops in on his lunch break to grab a bowl, as Jude greets him by name and he tells her about his morning, while Peter pieces together the desired bowl of fresh deconstructed sushi with precision, in his distressed Hamilton Tiger Cats T-Shirt.  Now, you are home folding another load of laundry, as you shake out and begin to corner your own Hamiltonian Tee, Peter is wondering how much longer he can put his on and go into work. It’s time now, more than ever to support people like Jude & Peter. For Poke Co. sales in, and bowls out is a daily mantra and we can help. We don’t need to drive down our main streets and see papered windows after this, we’ve all been going through enough. So, next time you consider eating out, or supporting a small business, call the Judes’ of Hamilton. Call them from you home, or from right outside the door of 193 Ottawa St. N. Give a wave through the window, tell them what you’d like, and while you wait for them to bring it 6 feet from you on the sidewalk, shoot them an E-Transfer and keep in mind… they’ve also had to close their tip jar, so throw a bone in with it if your heart is feeling extra helpful.  In true Hamiltonian form, Jude & Peter don’t want to be the only ones, they don’t want their friends to struggle and our small business owners are supporting other small business owners more than ever before. Jude insisted her friends don’t get left behind when the smoke clears, including and not limited to Merk Snack Bar, Simply Zen, City and the City Books, The Cannon, Hammerheads.  We know Metro, Fresh Co & No Frills have everything you need, but if it’s social distancing and good food you're after, why not go to our community’s front line, their future is in our hands and we don’t need anymore papered up small businesses around here.  If you are reading from outside Crown Point, it’s as simple as inserting your Jelly Bro’s neighbourhood name in its place. Support the ones who need you now.

To order street side pick up from Jude & Peter call 289-389-6653, tell them RPS.Co sent you!

Merk Snack Bar: 905-869-9159

The Cannon: 289-700-0088

Simply Zen: 905-529-1998

Hammerheads: 905-923-9293

2. COUNT ME IN COACH: When we asked Miss. Emily, our community’s single handed parenting support lifeline over at Determination Martial Arts located at 1360 Main St. E. what they needed to get through this difficult time, her response was both heart wrenching and very typical of her personality all in one.  As the owner of the busiest little dojo in CP. Emily Kulpaka and her team work around the clock supporting the mental and physical wellness of lower Hamilton with a jam packed 6 day a week schedule including classes of over 20 tiny little pigtailed children in oversized white gis kicking and bowing as they topple over unbalanced and await their much anticipated fourth birthdays, to intense late night adult fitness kickboxing programs that leave us personally out of breath, sweating and love-hating “Miss Emily” goodnight as we walk out the door in pain, secretly hiding our recently boosted self confidence and pride. Then there are those other times, mid-October when the sun is disappearing and the days are getting longer, when your seasonal depression disorder creeps up on you and pulls you back every time you reach for your door.  When the smells outside remind you of the early 90’s when things felt simple and a little more fresh in the world, and then sun goes down and you think to yourself… not today. When 6:45 rolls along and you notice a dim blue light on your side table appear as you slouch towards it and lift up your phone, dreading whoever might need you for something now, and instead, one line, you can read it without even having to build up the energy to hit your four number lock code and open your message app… “Come to class, we need you” class starts in 13 minutes and you know it only takes 4 to get there.  Sometimes you go, sometimes you’re crying while you punch “BOB” the lifelike creepy body bag that feels SO good to punch in the face! Sometimes you don't go, but you can be sure if you don’t, you’ll be seeing that dim blue light again in 1 hour and 5 minutes asking if you’re ok.

Emily Kulpaka and Determination Martial Arts is not a fitness club or a gym, and even if you’ve never seen or met the person you are partnered up with on Wednesday night at 7:30, they are not a stranger.  DMA is a home, it is a home that Emily built, and every single person that shuffles in the front door and takes off their shoes is part of that home’s family. The family that Miss Emily built.  So, what does the owner of Determination Martial Arts need to get through this challenge? Well, she’s gone ahead and frozen over 100 member accounts so her families don’t have to pay for services she can’t offer, and refunded thousands in pre-registration programs.  You can take her fully created home class schedule for free that she has built so her community can continue to feel well and healthy while she supports them from home. When we said “so what is it that Hamilton can do to get you through this?” her response...she doesn’t want her members to forget about her.  “Emails, Texts, Snail Mail, just to say Hi. Some reassurance we’ve actually built a community” So here we are, sitting at home, scrolling through useless pages and posts and yelling to our kids down the hall like hundreds of other parents in town “Hey! What do you think Miss Emily would say if she heard you talking like that to your sister?!” but are we just thinking about Miss Emily, or are we thinking about Miss Emily?  There are some truly simple things that we can take the time now to remember, that will go a long way.  Let's reach out to our support system, text a photo of your child holding a drawing they made for their teacher.  Tell your hockey coach “we are really going to miss you this season” and email a horribly hilarious and awkward photo of you attempting some Laguna Beach human pretzel move to your yoga studio to brighten up their day.  We are constantly buzzing through this non-stop life and rely on so many Miss Emilys' each week to keep our schedules tight and our games strong, don’t let them sit home silently, wondering if you’re thinking of them now… we can’t let that happen.  They don’t want you to feel their financial struggle, they know you have one too, they just want to know you will still be there when this is over and done. You can email Miss Emily & The DMA Staff your warm wishes at:

3. GIVING WITHOUT LEAVING: Over 235,000 Canadians will experience homelessness this year and 1.7 million people are living in core housing need. With over 37 million people in Canada, our dynamic city of Hamilton lays 12th place in the largest cities in our Country, home to over 500,000 human beings.  That’s how we see it anyway, we began with a mother, and a father, we had an upbringing in one form or another, we’ve had jobs, experiences, traumas, best days of our lives, we’ve tasted fresh fruit and seen the snow fall on Christmas day. We’ve learned to drive cars, we’ve been fired, we’ve made a difference, we’ve struggled, we’ve lost our parents if they ever stuck around, we’ve had children and started the cycle all over again.  500,000 human beings in our city, and that does not exclude the homeless, the hungry, the cold, the weary… they too are on that list, the exact same list you are on when you slip on your Jimmy Choos and drive that Tesla down Aberdeen Ave, as you head into your daily gridlock to the high rise corner office overlooking the Drake Hotel. Same list, human being, same list. Each fork in the road of life gives us the opportunity to choose, each choice comes with a heavy load of consequence, for many of us, we have an army of tools, training and support in the form of friends and family to assist in the guiding of which tine of the fork to take.  For many, those support staff have fallen, and for some, they were never even there to begin with. The tools were never acquired, or if they once had been, they may have been traded for a warm bed one night in February when we were under our feather down duvets with the furnace on. Training… training can be everything to someone who is about to have an opportunity ahead of them to flex their learnings. Sandy Cofax once said “People who write about spring training not being necessary, have never tried to throw a baseball.” We cannot judge the people in our city based on their social standing and their economic value, we simply cannot.

It doesn’t do your Jimmy Choos any justice to walk past Dale, our friend who has been facing homelessness for years and spends his days helping the homeless.  “I’ve lost everything, I gave it all up so I could help my friends. If you hand me something, don’t be upset when I immediately hand it to the person sitting against this wall beside me. I’m a giver, and I’d rather be homeless and hungry so my friend can eat, than sit here eating this and watching him starve.” With our bi-weekly Kindness Walks hosted by the incredible Sharon Hayes Williamson, founder of Helping Hamilton’s Homeless halted, we are confined to our home wondering what is happening to our homeless community without our help and people like Sharon out in the streets.

Well... look no further! Teaching our daughters that you don't need to have money to help someone in need, has been a large part of our teachings, and the single thought that started Emjay & Georgia's Blanket Drive in 2016, which has now transformed into The Blanket Squad, consisting of over 30 members attending and working hard raising thousands of dollars each year from November 1-30th and spending from December 1-March 31st annually. Purchasing new blankets, food, socks, toiletries, serving hot meals and even paying for the holiday bus rental that picks up hundreds of homeless folks downtown each holiday season, and brings them to an East End hot service meal provided by The Hope Project. So, when our access was shut down just two short weeks ago, new ways had to be found to help our homeless we care so deeply about.

That's when we met Jeannie via Care Mongering-Hamilton, a facebook site hosted by an incredible group of people. Jeannie has placed herself as the middleman in a sandwich of hope that is in turn, making sandwiches and serving hope. We hired Jeannie by donation to come to our home and take "Isolation Photos" of us on our front porch. Jeannie donated her services in exchange for an Email Money Transfer to our favourite joint in town, 541 Cafe & Eatery. The staff at 541 has been working around the clock to make and pack thousands of healthy bagged lunches, ever since having to shut down their dining room, closing off access to hundreds of hungry people who normally eat for free, by donation from their Button Exchange Program. Jeannie takes a photo and freezes this moment in time, we send funding to 541, 541 hands out the lunch. With the help of incredible people like Jeannie out there, we were able to reach our friends on the streets without leaving our front porch.

To have your family photos take by Jeannie, send her an email at: Tell her Kelly & Andy sent you! 4. BEING THE IMMUNITY IDOL: Two years ago, our neighbour Evelyn lost the love of her life.  Their two storey home surrounded by gardens that need turning, lawns that need cutting and a driveway requiring shoveling sits very still.  We wave when we can, after the sun goes down and our kitchen sink windows look into eachothers at night. Before Evelyn climbs her lengthy staircase slowly on her way to bed.  We watch as the upstairs light gets turned off, and then we can rest again knowing she made it safely to her room. We look at each other and wonder, after I’m gone will the kids be here to help you to bed?  With the recent life changes we have all been making, and our inability to go around the block and chat with her on her porch, part of Andy’s regular schedule, we have come to find out that Evelyn likes to text!  We never asked before, our face to face was all we had and needed. Now, it seems our communication with our dear neighbour has become much more than shoveling and heavy lifting. It’s become, “Good morning, how are you feeling today?” and progresses as the hours go by from there.  When Andy decides it’s time to go to the grocery store each

Monday, he can check in with Evelyn from our own dining table, get a list of anything she might need, and deliver it to her door without having to see or contact her.  We have our own parents, one of whom has spent the past month battling a terrible illness in and out of the hospital, while we as their children were unable to visit, or support either parent due to coughs, colds and immune compromised living.  A devastating and helpless time for our family, but that is what we have, a family… the homes that surround you may not have a spouse inside to lean on, adult children who have moved in to help make sure you are getting up the stairs each night, or possibly not even simple text messages asking if they’re ok or seeing if they need anything.  It’s time to find out who is living in the homes around you, find out what their life is like, and what you can do to help them, and if you are the one in need of help, it’s time to tell your young healthy neighbours, because they won’t turn away from you. Be the Immunity Idol in your community, be there the way you hope someone will be for you when the time comes.

5.  MASK WARS:  Never before had we thought so constantly about N95 Respirators… and we are woodworkers for goodness sakes!  As the global shortage reaches Canada’s front line doorsteps, we are faced with a pushback as the world begins to frantically sew homemade masks that certain agencies are turning away.  As we approach the tip of the iceberg that is COVID19, we are searching for the truth, the answers that will once and for all set our minds at ease. Are the 200 masks we sewed today going to be useful, or will they be left at the door of Emerg. Down at Hamilton General because they are unsafe and not N95 regulated protection?  Does it even matter now? Yes, yes it does. We all know with every article, there is a counter-article. With every piece of newly released information there is a devil's advocate with a keyboard. As the iceberg floats closer to our ship, here is the current truth behind your homemade, and might we add adorable, masks. A cautionary announcement left by Health Canada advises us that yes, it is true, this mask will not be protecting our front line workers from contracting the COVID19 Virus from their patients.  Not only can they not be tested, fitted or sealed around the mouth and nose, they require frequent adjusting, causing our front line workers to touch their faces and ears more often.

However, at this stage in the game, before Titanic hits, there is nothing wrong with a little Plan B. If you are at home, watching the clock tick by and your sewing table is a little dusty, like ours, and stocked to the brim with brightly coloured fabric, while your children are begging for something to do. Make the masks folks, make the masks.  Doctors and Nurses around the globe are desperately seeking protection of any kind as the pandemic thickens and the weight of reality blankets cities worldwide. The homemade masks are being used as a second layer in hopes to protect the N95 Respirators so they may be used again, as the shortage increases. Health Care Workers are also personally using homemade masks in their vehicles as they are transporting to and from work, at the grocery store where they are struggling to grasp a false sense of security, and around their children, who still haven't learned to “STOP TOUCHING YOUR FACE!” If now all we are doing is searching for a sense of security, feel free to continue to make those masks, you never know… Health Canada has already changed their website numerous times in the past 14 days, who’s to say 14 days from now we won’t be begging for anything to help cover our faces?  **Homemade masks are not medical devices and consequently are not regulated, like medical masks and respirators** For more details on N95 & Homemade masks from Health Canada can be found here: Health Canada.  Reach out to your local hospital and ask them what it is you can do to help right now, and if they aren’t sure at this time, call back in a few days… becauses the truth is, no one really knows how big this iceberg truly is.

Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy, be kind, be Hamilton. Don't Drink & Drive and Call Your Mum! Rock Paper Scissors Company. 

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