We’ve been on lockdown here in Oregon for a little longer than most places. It was a just over a month ago when the other four pastors and I met here at First Presbyterian and decided to move our services online. That led us to a conversation about, “What is the purpose of our church?”
We determined that one of our priorities is to be a community that embodies love, connection and cares for the neighbors around us. From that point we began to brainstorm ways we could help our community at large. That’s when we decided to create a Facebook group where people could post their needs and we could connect people together. We called it “Pandemic Partners.”
The crazy thing was, I did not have any social media training, so had no idea what to expect. The response from our city was incredible! We now have over 11,000 members, and about 30 new posts each day. There are group rules that each member agrees to abide by when joining…things like pledging to stay home except for essential activities, following CDC safety guidelines when helping others, and using the page only for the intended purpose.
Pandemic Partners has been able to help with everything from delivering groceries and changing flat tires to sending a breast pump to a mother in need. After discovering that some Seniors do not have access to Facebook or the internet, we also added a helpline where people can call in and leave a message.
We have now helped launch at least 18 other Pandemic Partner groups–five more in Central Oregon and several in other parts of the nation. I find myself consulting with one or two people a day who want to know how to set up a similar Facebook group.
We have created a launch kit and make all of our resources available to anyone who wants to start a group of their own. They are even welcome to use our name–branding is the least of our concerns! The more people that can be helped, the better.
People frequently ask me why I do what I do. For the longest time, I have said that my job is amazing because I get to tell people that they are good and loved and that they have goodness and love to offer the world. So I think my calling right now as a pastor is to find new ways to remind our whole community that they are made to offer goodness and love to their neighbors.
One of the best ways we have found to do that is by crowdsourcing kindness and we want to encourage others to do it too.
For more information about setting up a crowdsourcing site, feel free to message Pastor Schmidt through Pandemic Partners-Bend.
(Photo Credit: Dave Felton)
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