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“Social Distance Assistance” Podcast Amplifies Good News Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Woman and girl holding microphones
Kelly Jones and her 8-year-old daughter June host VPM's "Social Distance Assistance." Photo Credit: Ézé Amos.

A new podcast from VPM, Virginia’s home for public media, is offering a dose of positive stories and practical advice for how to be helpful in a time of social isolation. 

Hosted by Kelly Jones, “Social Distance Assistance” takes a cue from Mister Rogers as Jones and her 8 year-old daughter, June, set out to find brave, creative problem solvers who are supporting their communities in the era of social distancing. Each week, they explore how people are helping and sit down with experts who can answer the community’s most pressing pandemic questions and give practical advice on how they can become helpers themselves.

“I make podcasts for a living, but I wasn’t excited about making a coronavirus podcast because I was overwhelmed by information and all the fear,” said Jones. “But I remembered Mister Rogers saying that in times of crisis, we should ‘always look for the helpers.’ So June and I decided to make our podcast about the people who give us hope by doing what they can to make things better.” 

Each week, “Social Distance Assistance” highlights stories about how people are coping during the pandemic while offering actionable takeaways for listeners who want to get involved and make a difference.

Episodes 1 & 2 take on the topic of masks, exploring the efficacy of homemade masks and volunteer efforts to make them for health workers. In addition to the public health and economic hardships posed by the pandemic, “Social Distance Assistance” will also explore ways in which people are adapting religious traditions and supporting each others’ mental wellbeing during such anxiety-inducing times.

“‘Social Distance Assistance’ is a bright spot in the world at a time when people need a dose of positivity. VPM is excited to work with Kelly and June to tell the stories of helpers in our communities,” said Steve Humble, Chief Content Officer at VPM. “Social Distance Assistance” is the first VPM produced series with several more coming soon. We have plans to make some noise in this space.”

Jones is an audio producer and editor whose work has appeared on NPR member stations and the BBC. She was previously a producer of the history podcast BackStory, and a participant in the NPR Story Lab. 
“Social Distance Assistance” is now available on major distribution platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Pocket Casts, NPR One, Spotify and Stitcher.