Network fosters community connection through pandemic

A band of Lane County residents is empowering neighbors to form networks and help each throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted: Apr 23, 2020 6:34 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2020 10:01 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- A band of Lane County residents is empowering neighbors to form networks and help each through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lane County Mutual Aid Network was organized by community members shortly after the pandemic began and has grown in the weeks that followed.

Now more than 100 volunteers strong, organizers pool their resources in order to take requests from community members in need. Requests oftentimes include anything from grocery or medicine delivery to emotional support.

With limited financial resources, organizers also connect residents to resources or take part in small fundraisers.

"These people who are not only offering support to others in the community, but just have a passion for making sure that everyone is accounted for and that everyone is protected during these wild times," said team member Avery Temple.

According to Temple, the network currently receives around 20 requests per week, with some residents receiving long-term assistance from volunteers.

While much of the assistance is centralized through the network, organizers say assisting in the formation of "neighborhood pods" is another prong of their approach.

Connecting neighbors at a hyper-local level can help improve resiliency, according to Temple. Making contact with neighbors on your block or even just your floor in an apartment building with flyers is a great way to start.

Neighbors can follow up by creating phone trees and group chats, offering whatever resources they can and asking for help when necessary.

"We want to have a community that is continuously growing and supporting each other long after this crisis," said Temple. "So we really want to make sure we are able to build a long-lasting structure where we can really depend and rely on each other, but at the same time help each other in ways that were maybe overlooked before."

While the Lane County Mutual Aid Network has primarily operated in the Eugene-Springfield area, organizers say it is starting to expand to other communities like Cottage Grove and Junction City.

If you want to request assistance from the network, you can go to their website, Facebook group, or call their hotline at 541-321-8749

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