Social Distance Assistance A podcast about looking for the helpers during the pandemic. Taking a cue from Mr. Rogers, host Kelly Jones and her daughter, June, set out to find creative problem solvers who are supporting their communities in the era of social distancing. They explore how people are helping and sit down with experts who can answer our most pressing questions and share advice on how to become helpers ourselves.
Social Distance Assistance

Social Distance Assistance

From VPM

A podcast about looking for the helpers during the pandemic. Taking a cue from Mr. Rogers, host Kelly Jones and her daughter, June, set out to find creative problem solvers who are supporting their communities in the era of social distancing. They explore how people are helping and sit down with experts who can answer our most pressing questions and share advice on how to become helpers ourselves.

Most Recent Episodes

Recovery and the New Normal

What does life look like after the coronavirus--both in the literal sense of surviving a COVID-19 diagnosis, and in the figurative sense as we think about what our "new normal" could look like once we've successfully contained the virus' spread? We heard from Letha Mullins, a West Virginia-based nurse who contracted COVID-19 in April, about what it feels like to have the virus, and what recovery looks like. As we bring Social Distance Assistance to a close (for now, at least), we also checked in with helpers from episodes throughout the season for updates and a look ahead to their hopes for a post-coronavirus world.

Introducing: Resettled

We're excited to share the first episode of VPM's new podcast, Resettled. In this six-part series, we showcase stories of refugees as they adjust to their new lives in Virginia. From navigating the healthcare system to graduating from high school, we share in the intimate moments of refugees' lives and explore the policies shaping their futures. Each episode explores a specific theme in their journeys upon arrival to Virginia. We hear about what it's like to: perform on stage in a non-native language, overcome past trauma in a new country, and budget for a family with no credit history or transferrable degree. These personal stories are woven together with useful teaching moments about the resettlement process. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and visit for additional content and resources.

Grieving Without Gathering

Grief is our internal process of dealing with loss, but coping with that grief requires external support. So, how can we process loss without being together? For losses of well-known public figures, it can look like a virtual gathering of strangers to share their collective memories and reflect on the global impact the person made. For personal loss, like that of a family member, it may mean making do with a less-than-ideal memorial service now with plans for a grandiose celebration of life once it's feasible to be around each other again. When you hear the word grief, the first thing you typically think of is death. But we're all experiencing another type of grief due to the pandemic - disenfranchized grief, over the loss of the lives we once had. We spoke with a grief counselor about how unique the grieving process is, methods for coping and reasons to be grateful even when it seems like hope is lost.

Nature Is Healing - Are We The Virus?

The global response to the coronavirus had some unexpected positive outcomes for the environment. Not long after people began sheltering-in-place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, a number of environmental issues that had previously been chalked up to a simple byproduct of human life began clearing up - everything from improved air quality to wildlife reclaiming spaces. So, if removing humans and their creations from the equation means the planet thrives, is that something we can learn from and apply to whatever "new normal" we create once the pandemic is under control? Maria Algarra has organized volunteer cleanups of community spaces in Miami Beach, Florida through her group, Clean This Beach Up (, to cut down on the massive amount of PPE that's now being discarded - things like gloves, masks and other cleaning supplies that are wreaking havoc on animal populations. Leslie Sturges has worked as a bat rehabilitator for 20 years, and campaigns to save them from a disease called White Nose Syndrome ( Now, she's helping by keeping bats safe from contracting COVID-19 from humans and ensuring they continue to play their essential role in the ecosystem. Tina Johnson is the director of the National Black Environmental Justice Network (, and is focused on how the coronavirus has disproportionately impacted communities of color, along with a host of other factors influenced by environmental racism. She's dedicated to ensuring a fair, just and equitable environment for the human population moving forward as well. Humanity changing its habits to save the planet may be easier said than done, but with helpers like Maria, Leslie and Tina, we can be hopeful for a future where we are no longer a detriment to our environment.

Social Justice Assistance

Massive, in-person protests have been taking place around the world every day since the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. Protesting is fundamentally at odds with the concept of social distancing, but thousands of people are making the decision to march in solidarity with Black lives. Thankfully, the majority of those people are taking precautions to keep themselves and others as safe as possible while doing so. We hear about the positive role vehicles are playing in protests—a surprising shift from the events in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017—and also speak a with Minneapolis-based rapper-turned-medic who has organized a volunteer medical force to help save lives at the epicenter of the protests.

Revisited: Meet the Mask Makers

Update With the national conversation focused on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, we're taking a break from new episodes this week. However, we did want to take this time to revisit and make some updates to our first episode, on the subject of masks, as so much has changed over the past 8 weeks. We'll also be back with a new episode on Tuesday, June 16 on how to safely and effectively speak out for social justice in the midst of a global pandemic. Original Description Why are so many people trying their hands at sewing homemade masks? Making a mask not only helps the wearers feel safe, it helps the maker feel useful and part of a movement. We speak with members of an Atlanta-based volunteer group that's been able to deliver more than 13,000 masks to their local hospital system, hear why a long-time sewist only started making masks in the past week, and even make a couple masks ourselves. Visit for more information. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.

Redefining Home

For the majority of Americans impacted by the coronavirus, the word home has come to mean something it didn't before, whether that's the office, classroom, daycare, therapist's office or all of the above. And, for the most part, we've adapted to this new concept of what homes are being used for. But what about people who aren't able to be at home, or don't have a home to go to? We focus on the people bringing the comforts of home to the people who need it most, whether it's a small group of community activists providing shelters for homeless people in San Francisco, a network of RV owners matching with healthcare workers in need of a safe shelter, or a formerly incarcerated person helping deliver specialized information to keep those in prisons and jails safe from COVID-19.

Art...Finds A Way

With most of the focus during the pandemic on finding a cure through science and medicine, it can be easy to question whether art is even necessary right now. But, the truth of the matter is, art - whether visual or performing - has a profound role in helping to tell the human stories that science can't, and introduces hope where it may not have been obvious. We speak with a theater director helping kids continue to have an outlet for their creativity, a Charlottesville photographer taking "porchraits" to reintroduce some conversation and capture life in the moment, an opera singer in Seattle belting out Nessun Dorma over a loudspeaker to his neighborhood, and a digital illustrator from Richmond who is using his medium to highlight the often forgotten people who have recovered from the coronavirus. Links & Resources: DMR Adventures ( C'ville Porch Portraits ( / A Drawing Table (

Youth in the Time of Coronavirus

There's a lot of information out there about how the coronavirus is impacting adults, from their mental and physical health, to their financial well-being, to their ability to reestablish some sense of normalcy as stay-at-home restrictions begin to be eased around the country. But how is physical distancing affecting kids? How are they coming together to help - whether that's combating loneliness as an only child, facing the confusion with friends, or rebelling against their parents? Who are the helpers that are making a difference in the lives of children and the parents who are raising them? We found a pair of siblings bonding in unexpected ways, a librarian getting creative to reduce screen time, bus drivers delivering meals to underserved communities and even a radio station going way out of their comfort zone to make a high school rite of passage feel a little less bizarre. June also talked with some of her best friends to learn how they're feeling in the midst of all of this, and what they're planning to do when they can all get back together again.

Special Episode: Cultivating Resilience In Our Food System

The coronavirus pandemic has introduced massive disruption in America's food system, and has exposed how "big ag" isn't equipped to quickly pivot to prevent food insecurity issues for much of the population. In this extended episode, we look at the ways people are helping reconnect to community through food at every step in the process. We speak with individuals and organizations protecting and advocating for farm workers and meatpacking employees; independent farmers collaborating to fill gaps in the supply chain and selling directly to consumers; artisan producers finding creative ways to offset the surplus of crops and animal products; a chef shifting the focus of her restaurant to serve hospitals and homeless shelters; and a professor of sustainable food systems answering questions of ethics and equity related to food delivery, grocery shopping and the future of food in our country. Links & Resources Legal Aid Justice Center ( Venceremos ( Golden Organic Farm ( Rural Advancement Foundation International ( Lively Run Dairy ( Cosecha Cafe ( East Oakland Collective ( The Essential Workers Project (