ModernWell Connection during the Coronavirus Pandemic by Jennifer Cramer-Miller


The unprecedented coronavirus chaos has tilted the floor we stand on. Staying home. Upending our routine. Dizzying us with anxiety and fear. But it also reinvigorates our ability to accept hard truths and plow ahead, anyway. Although nothing quite like a (seemingly overnight) pandemic—we’ve all managed hard things before. In my case, after four kidney transplants, I’ve acquired some go-to coping techniques. And I’ve always found that stepping outside of myself to help others eases the way. 

I’m continually amazed and lifted by the generosity of people that bubbles up in difficult times. So in this difficult time, as an antsy person, kidney patient, and board member of the National Kidney Foundation, I wanted to DO something helpful. But what?

Then, I checked Facebook and watched our own Julie Burton lead a ModernWell Facebook live group. She was keeping the ModernWell members close despite the closure of our space to slow the coronavirus spread. As fate would have it, Julie wore the peppy, pink t-shirt I created for last fall’s National Kidney Foundation Kidney Walk. Front and center on her shirt, my long-time motto (and Kidney Walk Team name) shouted at me. “Live Happy, Dammit!” 

Julie, with her signature kindness, shared that the shirt was born of my advocacy efforts to focus on daily gratitude and kidney wellness. The next thing I knew, comments started coming. Where do I get that shirt?

Instantly, I rummaged through my stockpile of t-shirts and knew just what to do. I’d make them available for sale and donate the proceeds to the National Kidney Foundation. A swirl of amazing things happened. ModernWellers reached out, one after another, asking to buy a cute shirt for a critical cause. I delivered them door to door, without contact, as per the coronavirus safety recommendations. Mostly homebound? Yes. Helpless? No. 

Two of my favorite things merged to elevate me beyond the coronavirus chaos—connecting with friends and giving back. To my delight, so many ModernWell members shared that the sentiment of Live Happy, Dammit! cheers them on too. And when we face serious problems together, it seems the smallest of things may lighten the load. So if a slogan on a t-shirt can do that, plus benefit kidney patients, it’s a win-win.

If you feel homebound and helpless, I encourage you to think of ways to connect with and help others. Please remember and rest assured, if you need extra assistance during this time, the generosity of the ModernWell community is at the ready to help you. The magic of ModernWell has fostered countless collaborations. And especially now, we need to rely on each other. Perhaps the flurry of uncertainty that keeps us apart now, can also bring us together.

Because together, we will get through this. We will wash our hands for twenty seconds and struggle to purge the tune of “Happy Birthday” from our heads. We will abide by social distancing recommendations and stay safe. People will reach out to us and offer their help, and just the same, we will reach out to others and offer ours. That is the beautiful thing that rises despite this coronavirus reality of shut-down restaurants, theaters, retails stores, and non-essential businesses—there’s no way to shut down the restorative power of people helping people. 

NOTE: I still have some cute shirts left for a critical cause! If you’re interested, DM me on Instagram @jcramermiller.

Jennifer Cramer-Miller is a custom home consultant, writer, and gratitude advocate. Her written work has been featured in Brevity, The Sunlight Press, Mamalode, Grown & Flown, The Erma Bombeck Blog, Minnesota Physician, The Kindness Blog, and The NKF Kidney Stories, MN. Socialize with her on Instagram: Facebook: or check out her essays


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