The previous year has been an emotional, personal, and professional challenge for all of us. Since the pandemic took hold, we have all had to adapt to the so-called ‘new normal.’ It’s meant wearing masks in public places, practicing social distancing, and perfecting our hand-washing regimes alongside other shifts that have redefined everyday life. However, the COVID-19 crisis has affected many of us on an even deeper level.

Acclimatizing to the ‘New Normal’: The social restrictions and new working demands of the COVID era have transformed modern life. While we are currently experiencing a downturn in cases and are slowly reopening, it will be a long time before we return to our pre-pandemic lives— if those lives are ever the same again. Pam Baer explored this issue in a recent blog post published on Medium. The community leader drew upon her own experiences and shared insights on what the ‘new normal’ means for families across the nation.

“As a mother to four adults who were all home during our shelter in place, navigating this new (ab)-normal was intense,” writes Baer. “Two of my kids are heading back to their universities, and one is starting graduate school in modified curriculum formats whether it be all-virtual, partial or still-to-be-determined. My oldest and my husband continue to work from home.

“Managing their expectations while keeping a positive attitude has been a challenge. I simultaneously fear that my children will relax their vigilance of safety once out of the nest, as I wrestle with the need to give them their independence. Time outdoors, family meals and community work all help settle my nerves. I keep up my mantra of always wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing social distancing.”

Participating in the Pandemic Marathon: What many of us hoped would be a quick sprint has fast turned into a marathon. While Baer notes that it’s ‘disappointing we can’t jump back into business as usual,’ she says that we all need to participate in the ‘pandemic marathon.’ Aside from covering how the COVID-19 crisis had impacted her home life, Baer also shared interesting insights for helping navigate the ‘new normal’. Here are some of the highlights:

Wearing masks: Needless to say, one of the most widespread societal changes during this period has been the introduction of masks. Baer writes about some of the leaders in this important sector. In her blog post, she notes that The Nest Guild has begun producing hand-manufactured masks and PPE for local communities. The guild represents more than 700 micro- and small businesses around the globe.

Moreover, her non-profit launched the PPE Purchasing Initiative last year. The project aims to lower the financial burden of unemployment for small businesses by financing the production of high-quality PPE. The non-profit donates this protective gear to both frontline workers and the wider community.

Supporting students’ mental health:  The pandemic has had a colossal impact on college students and recent graduates. Baer notes that, for many of these individuals, their ‘future plans have been stalled or stopped’. The knock-on effect of this could be depression, anxiety, and further mental health issues for young people. Combating this problem and supporting these individuals’ mental wellness should be at the forefront of our efforts. 

For that reason, Baer shares a wealth of resources that we can use to offer both health and support. For instance, Better Mynd has partnered with institutes across the country to offer virtual therapy to students. She also notes that opening up an honest dialogue about mental health can have an immense impact. Mind Wide Open is a project with a host of mental wellness resources aiming to reduce the stigma of this topic.

Finding joy in community events: Baer suggests that we can still find joy in community events. She notes that some community sports are open in some limited capacity and that we can revel in supporting our local teams. In addition to sporting events, Baer also talks about the wealth of online and virtual experiences available.  Many are free of charge and are a great way to see exhibits, hear lectures and learn about causes in their communities from the comfort of our living rooms. 

The ‘Freedom to Make an Impact’: The end may be in sight, but staying strong and resilient throughout this period is essential. Concluding her blog post, Baer talks about how we can manage and contribute to our communities and family. She asks readers to share their opinions on current events and contribute to the ongoing conversation.

“While these times are certainly chaotic, we all have platforms for progress in our own backyards. We have the freedom to make an impact and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to my community and to my family,” writes Baer. “This new normal is a reality for our foreseeable future.

About Pam Baer: Hailing from Texas, Pam Baer attended the University of Texas in Austin. Soon after, she moved to New York City and began working in the financial services sector. She married Larry Baer, CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and relocated to San Francisco where the couple now live.  They have four children together.

As a renowned community leader, Baer is known for her philanthropic work and is involved in a variety of charitable organizations. She joined the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation in 2002 and served until 2018. Soon after, she was named the first Lifetime Director of the foundation and remains heavily involved.

In 2014, Baer launched For Goodness Sake, a benefit corporation supporting health, educational and community causes by selling accessories and donating a percentage of the proceeds. During its four year run, the initiative donated over $1 million to organizations in need around the San Francisco area.

Baer holds various trustee and board positions including posts at Every Mother Counts, Nest, Family House, and the Jewish Women’s Giving Circle.