Pandemic of Love
About a week after Colorado‘s stay-at-home order was put in place, my friend and (part-time CLP employee!) Jess let me know that she had started to volunteer for a grassroots mutual aid organization called Pandemic of Love. She said she was starting a “microcommunity” in the Boulder area that would set about matching folks who were suffering from COVID-related financial hardship with community members who volunteered to provide a little bit of help to someone they’ve never met. Pretty cool, right?
She had heard about it by catching an Instagram post by a woman named Shelly Tygielski in Florida. Turns out Shelly thought the whole idea up at her kitchen table on March 14. Fast forward three months and the movement has grown to have these microcommunities like Jess started all over the U.S. (and even some internationally) and they’ve made over 130,000 matches between people needing a little bit of help and a community member who steps up to give a hand!
Z and I were for sure saddled with our own challenges with our businesses on account of the pandemic but we still had food in the fridge and enough to fall back on that we felt pretty confident in being able to ride it out. I recognized that for a lot of people, this was not the case. I let Jess know we’d like to be matched to help someone and she had me fill out an easy form. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous. A few days later I got matched with a woman with three young kiddos, husband out-of-work, and struggling to make ends meet. She sounded hopeless in our email and text exchanges, and just really stressed out, having trouble covering essentials for her family. I sent her a little cash on Venmo and she could not have been more grateful.
Jess tells me that the typical donation from a patron to the person who asked for help is around 135 bucks. That definitely put it in perspective for me. While I do not diminish that $135 is $135, it definitely drove the message home that even what might seem like a small amount to one person can really really help someone else. A week of groceries, some diapers, a tank of gas. Maybe that amount towards an overdue utility bill.
It gave me such a good feeling to help the family that I first got matched with that I reached back to Jess and asked her to match us a couple more times. I’m not tooting my own horn by telling you guys this; I just think it’s a really cool model and it’s been awesome to watch it grow and Jess just inspires me so I thought I’d share with you guys. Maybe you know someone who can benefit from a little hand up. Maybe you know someone who didn’t lose their job or hasn’t suffered financially due to the pandemic, and they can give someone else a little bit of support. I’ll put all the links below. They’ll even guide you through providing your help anonymously if you prefer.
Hope you guys are doing well as we start to emerge cautiously from our homes and return to some of our normal activities. The lockdown period definitely made me renew my focus on what’s most important to me, who is most important to me, but more than anything – how much I value human connection. I think that’s what I liked best about my Pandemic of Love experiences. When we were all totally isolated I had a chance to have these really raw human connections. I also recognized the vulnerability of the folks I helped and was stunned by their bravery in reaching out for and receiving some support. I’m definitely going to try really hard not to lose sight of how lucky I am and how much others can be hurting.
If you’re not in Denver/Boulder, check out PandemicofLove.com
to see if there is a microcommunity in your area.
The numbers as of June 4th:
♥ 625 volunteers
♥ 132k matches between individuals or families in need & patrons
♥ $18.5M in direct transactions