CLEVELAND — For as philanthropic as Northeast Ohio has proven to be amid the coronavirus pandemic, it can be a bit daunting to identify the right resources, organizations and charitable individuals to reach out to. In an effort to better expedite this process, two women in Cleveland created an online hub that is already paying dividends.
Jeanne Li and Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez are the co-founders of Cleveland Pandemic Response (CPR), a mutual aid organization designed to provide Cleveland with the ability to have residents and organizations help each other.
"I think we just provide that rapid response that a lot of people need right now," Li said. "I think this is a moment in time where we realize that we do really want the same thing for everybody. This is a way to provide it."
In addition to providing links to various organizations offering resources amid the coronavirus pandemic, the online portal essentially acts as a message board where people make posts about their individual needs. Instead of relying on larger non-profits in a top-down approach, the purpose of the portal is to better facilitate person-to-person assistance or a more 'horizontal' approach.
"It's just amazing how small of a connection can be made but how magnificent a connection can be made," Stonebraker-Martinez said. "All of it is important in helping each other. Cleveland Pandemic Response relief really hopes to not just provide support and build a community for each other for the next 18 months or however long this pandemic is still affecting our society, but also to build on those relationships after the pandemic."
So far, the organization and portal have accumulated 160 volunteers and 20 organizations. More than 50 different needs have been met in a few short weeks. That includes a woman who needed assistance with her utility bills. The bill was paid in a matter of hours.
"I think we just provide that rapid response that a lot of people need right now," Li said. "The people that are coming through, you're really seeing the best in people."
To learn more about the online portal, click here.