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Human nature teaches us in times of crisis to take care of ourselves first so that we’re in a position to help others. But the women business owners of our NAWBO-Buffalo Niagara chapter have found that in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic we’re all facing, they can do both.

In the weeks since the crisis hit, the chapter’s leaders have been busy keeping their own businesses afloat and moving forward while supporting their members. They have offered opportunities to connect nearly every business day, including Zoom coffee talks and wine time. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul joined one recently to speak about business concerns. They also offer a weekly speaker series on different topics. 

“There are a lot of unanswered questions right now for our ladies,” says Paula D’Amica, author, journalist and owner of Blessings by Nature. “NAWBO National is providing such great material, but we want to offer something local. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone and we’re providing a place for our members to touch base with their NAWBO sisters.”

At the same time, Paula, who is her chapter’s president-elect, had taken note of an incredible movement that was gaining momentum called #BuffaloStrong. Led by ABC local affiliate WKBW, the movement encourages locals to live up to their “City of Good Neighbors” name by being there for one another during this time. That means calling to check on an elderly neighbor or relative, supporting local restaurants by ordering takeout or giving time or money to those in need.

People are also encouraged to buy #BuffaloStrong T-shirts, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting FeedMore WNY to help feed the hungry. “There are families, many with children, who don’t know where their next meal will come from,” says Paula. “The supplies at FeedMore WNY were dwindling rapidly and this movement is helping to bolster that.”

To do their part, Paula first encouraged her fellow Buffalo Niagara board members—who had committed earlier this year to not only helping members build their businesses, but also supporting the community—to purchase T-shirts for themselves. Then, they initiated a challenge to all members and other local business owners to buy shirts for themselves, staff and family. It was a call to action that quickly caught on and created a buzz.

Recently, chapter members wearing their #BuffaloStrong T-shirts sent in selfies, which were pieced together into a group shot (pictured). The ultimate goal is to fill a shot with all members—nearly 100 women business owners strong. “When this all started, I was emotional and would get a little teary eyed at the response,” Paula says. “Now, I’m just over the moon excited about it. We do a lot together as a chapter, but this is something different and very impactful for this time.”

And, as Paula and her fellow chapter leaders have no doubt proven, you can help yourself while helping others.

Ways You Can Support Your Community Right Now

1) Support your favorite small business owners to ensure they’re around after the recovery.

2) Check in on elderly and immuno-compromised people to see if they need you to run an errand or just want to talk.

3) Touch base with single friends and family members, too, who might be feeling extra isolated.

4) Volunteer your time to support your community, whether it’s making masks, handing out food at a local food bank or helping to deliver meals to health care workers.

5) If you have money to give, do that—every little bit counts for non-profits all over the nation right now.

6) If you know a high school or college senior who is missing out on activities like graduation, write them a note of encouragement or send them a thoughtful gift.

7) Get creative—there are a million ways you can help your community if you have a passion for it!

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