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The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a key to coping with stress caused by the pandemic is to connect with others. While it's critical that we abide by COVID-19 physical distancing guidelines, they go against our human need for connection and can lead to unnecessary health complications.
For example, people may hesitate to seek medical help for fear of contracting the virus. As well, their usual support systems may be stretched thin.
Loneliness and isolation are not just unpleasant. They are correlated with negative health outcomes as well as high health care utilization because lonely people often seek companionship through medical visits.
To address these challenges, Doña Ana Communities United (DACU) has initiated Cruces Contigo. DACU pairs up interested Las Crucens from all walks of life. Each pair agrees to check in on each other a few times per week. The intent is to provide a link to the outside world, one which can help ensure that people are not experiencing medical or other crises. Check-ins usually occur by phone or text, though some happen via email or in person from a safe distance. The pair decides if they would like to conduct quick check-ins or have more extended conversations.
Cruces Contigo is available free of charge to all residents of Las Cruces, particularly those with health or economic challenges. While DACU initiated the program with members of the Mesilla Valley Timebank in late March, you do not need to be a timebank member to participate.
Already, one Contigo participant was rescued from a life-threatening medication imbalance when his Contigo partner noticed his text messages weren’t making sense. In another case, a Contigo participant is helping her partner learn to use his new cell phone so he can connect with family members across the country.
If you would like to make a new friend as you help someone else stay connected, please contact Adalis Gonzalez at 915-314-0746 or DACUAdalis@gmail.com.
You can also join the timebank, through which county residents share their skills with one another without exchanging money. To become a member, make plans to attend DACU's June videoconference orientation. For more information, visit the DACU website at www.da-cu.org.
The timebank is one of three current DACU initiatives. The other two are social equity mapping and the Just Community radio show on Las Cruces radio station KTAL-LP 101.5, 8-9 a.m. every Thursday. “The show features voices that are less often heard in our community,” DACU said on its website.
The nonprofit DACU, 151 S. Walnut St., unit B-13, was founded in 2013 to create “welcoming spaces for all people, especially those whose voices and stories go unheard,” according to its mission statement. “We build genuine relationships, carry out uplifting projects and engage with local government.”
Contact Bachman at 575-496-4330 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.da-cu.org.
Kari Bachman is director of Doña Ana Communities United.