CLEVELAND — Neighbor Up Cleveland has been building community networks for years, and now they are a vital resource of support and community during COVID-19.
They do this by holding regular, in-person meetings based on neighborhoods or shared interests. They also recently started holding city-wide meetings. But now, with social distancing, they're meeting online. They use Zoom to hold what they call a virtual marketplace.
It is helping to bring people together while we’re apart, and meeting people’s needs where they are.
"I think that people need to know they're not alone," said Bianca Michelle Butts with Neighbor Up.
She and several other women run the virtual meetings.
"This is a quick, fun, and easy way to promote mutual exchange," said Lisa-Jean Sylvia as she moderated a recent meeting.
Here is how it works. You get one minute to make your request, offer or declaration. Then, others can match with you.
"I'm very interested in hikes or walks that are not well-known," said one woman during a recent virtual meeting.
She had several matches to help her find what she was looking for.
Another man stated he was with a local church, “and we have an endowment that is looking for ways to serve those who are falling through the cracks in the coronavirus."
He too matched with a couple people who had idea for him.
"I'm going to make a declaration,” said one woman when it was her turn. “I'm going to take very good care of myself."
Others promised to help support her on that promise to herself.
"I'm sitting here at my sewing machine and I'm making masks,” said another woman. “So, my offer is if you don't have a mask, I'm offering masks."
She really hit a high note too when she also offered boxes of girl scout cookies. There were audible gasps and laughs.
"It's definitely about meeting new people that you typically wouldn't meet," said Lila Mills with Neighbor Up.
And creating relationships so we can support each other in times of need, like a pandemic and beyond.
"I think there's a lot of people who are seeing there's a lot more good in the world than they realize," said Lisa-Jean.
"We're social distancing right now, but we don't have to sever all our connections,” said Bianca Michelle. “People are choosing, and maintaining, new connections and I think that speaks volumes about our community."
Right now, the virtual meet-ups are always on Thursdays at either 3PM or 6PM. They encourage you to check their Facebook page or website for the latest on their virtual gatherings.
Click here for more info.
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