As self-isolation becomes the new norm, Fraser Valley residents are creating and joining Facebook groups to help neighbours in need – and get assistance themselves.
In barely a week, the groups have become a vital way to connect those who need help and those who can offer it. So far the groups have helped collect and distribute donations for the food bank, medical supplies for doctors, letters for lonely senior, and groceries and cleaning supplies for those in isolation.
“It’s blowing my mind how many people are so eager to do something positive and help,” says Kimberly Payment, who has helped organize one of the most popular such Facebook pages. In just one instance of many successful connections, a member of the group inquired last week about how he might donate masks for health care workers. Just hours later, he had been connected with a local Division of Family Practice.
It was just nine days ago – March 21 – when Payment inquired on Facebook about the existence of any such groups locally. She and her co-worker at a now-closed registered massage therapy clinic, Heather Narraway, ended up finding a pair of Vancouver-area groups. Using the rules and general platform laid down by the Vancouver group, the organizers of the group set up a Fraser Valley-based site they called “COVID-19 Coming Together (Fraser Valley Region).”
“Within a day we couldn’t believe how many people started joining,” Payment said. A third woman, Shay Sinclair, who had more experience operating such groups, offered to help manage the burgeoning page and smooth out some of the wrinkles that inevitably crop up.
“The main goal is to connect people who need help with those who are able to give it,” she said. “There are still tons of healthy, able-bodied people who can go and do that simple errand-running – walk a dog or help people who can’t help themselves right now.”
The page now has more than 2,500 members.
“It’s been amazing. It makes me so happy to see the positivity and the beautiful side of humanity. It’s so easy to focus on people hoarding toilet paper and the gross stuff like that, but there are so many more people who are kind-hearted and want to help each other. It brings back that sense of community. It’s so cool.”
Even with the outpouring, though, Payment said members are being urged to take both health precautions, and financial ones, like not paying in advance for groceries from those who offer help.
While Facebook is a great way to find younger people willing to help, it’s doesn’t reach all the seniors who need assistance. Anyone who is looking for help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 604-812-9078.
Another group, CareMongering – Abbotsford: Community Response to COVID-19, has about 700 members as of Monday morning and aims to “organize the local community on the grassroots level to ensure vulnerable community members have access to food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities,” according to its page. Organizers also hope to facilitate the redistribution of goods that can’t be bought from stores.
Another group, Abby COVID Care Group, has organized the collection of donations for those in need.
In addition to pooling resources and other necessities, the groups also function as a clearing house for information about COVID-19, the government’s response and ways to access help.
The groups can all be found by going to Facebook and searching for their names.
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