Amid the upheaval and for some the devastating effects of the current pandemic, there are also signs of a powerful transformation of communities uniting together as caring families. Here are some examples in the Mid-Atlantic area of the United States and around the world:

The superintendent of one of the largest and most ethnically diverse school districts in the United States which borders Washington, D.C. recently posted a blog entitled  “All In: With Kindness, Compassion and A Gentle Approach”   and shared this with parents and community members.  Here is a quote from the blog. The superintendent uses the word “family” instead of “community.”

“As we persevere through this new normal, it is imperative to recognize that some members of our MCPS family are facing severe hardships. Some have lost loved ones; some have lost jobs; some are on the front lines fighting this pandemic; and all of us are adjusting to changes in daily routines. All of us are being asked to do our part to lessen the severity this illness is inflicting on our community. Recently, a parent shared an email message describing what she hopes her children will experience educationally during this time. She hopes her children will have “opportunities to connect and talk to teachers, hear from them, attend interesting and engaging video lessons that are not just worksheet reviews, ask questions through email and office hours, and all work together to get through this with kindness, compassion, and a gentle approach to everything.’”

A major hospital mailed households a poster that reads, “Thank You Healthcare Heroes” and invited residents to post this in the windows of their homes or to take a picture holding the poster and post on social media with #HeroesWorkHere” to express appreciation for those on the front lines.

A popular restaurant gives its carry out customers posters saying, “Standing Together Six Feet A Part” to post in their homes or cars.

A town in Maryland has organized a neighborhood support system of neighbors who oversee a specified group of homes to provide non-emergency help to residents in need. This local civic association has also provided websites and webinars full of resources for individuals and small businesses to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An anonymous donor arranged for a local pizza parlor to deliver 50 pizzas to a nearby hospital to thank healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

In Northern Virginia youth groups from two different faiths gathered for a video conference to have a friendly discussion on each faiths beliefs to better understand each other.

A group of faith leaders in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, including Elder Kevin E. Calderwood, shared thoughts and feelings during a video conference about how their churches,  mosques and synagogues  are worshipping and serving amid the stay-at-home directives.

 In New York City and in some cities around the world people cheer from their windows, balconies and rooftops at the same time of day to thank healthcare workers, essential workers and first responders fighting the pandemic. Some New Yorkers created a social media initiative #ClapBecauseWeCare to thank essential workers.

These are just a few examples of communities transforming into caring families to strengthen each other during the pandemic. But there may be more to these unprecedented times than many realize. It was only one year ago during the April 2019 General Conference when Elder D. Todd Christofferson  kindly spoke of interfaith and humanitarian efforts  as an opportunity to help prepare others for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Elder  Christofferson  closed his soul-stirring remarks with, “This great and last dispensation is building steadily to its climax—Zion on earth being joined with Zion from above at the Savior’s glorious return.” Perhaps these unprecedented times are to help accelerate the building of Zion in ourselves, our homes and our communities.