The Internet and social media can be a daunting place during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic that has begun to impact Saskatchewan. But a group of concerned citizens in Swift Current recently started a Facebook group aimed at helping those in need in their hometown.
“This is a public community-building group for people in Swift Current to create a support network during the pandemic. You can offer help, reach out for help, or discuss ways to support community members,” says the Swift Current Pandemic Support Network’s description on Facebook.
Andrea McCrimmon, Cori Giesbrecht, Jessica Giesbrecht, Staci Schaitel, and Courtney Stewart started the Swift Current Pandemic Support Network and the effort is already paying off. The women are all associated with Swift Current Branch Library as staff, friends of the library, or board members.
“Some people and I were talking last week about what would happen if we all had to stay at home for significant periods of time, and we decided that finding ways to connect our local community and share local information easily would be hugely important,” McCrimmon explained.
It didn’t take long for the group to gain traction.
“We started the Facebook group four days ago on March 13 when we realized that things would start shutting down around Swift Current. There are currently over 1,200 members and it’s growing all the time.”
The group has quickly become a forum to share information quickly, to offer support, and to try and arrange assistance for those who need it. It has already been able to help assist those in need.
“Absolutely. People have been using the Facebook group to connect with each other to get errands done. We have a huge crew of volunteers who are ready and waiting to respond when someone puts out a request for help. At the moment, the group has been inundated with offers to volunteer help, so I think we are in a good position to be able to mobilize people as the need grows. It’s also really reassuring for people to know that there is an easy way to reach out for help during this stressful time,” said McCrimmon.
For people like McCrimmon it is important to stay positive and offer support when things get tough.
“I’ve been part of some pretty major things in Swift Current that seemed impossible but turned out unbelievably successful. And those things happened by a group of people deciding we don’t know if this is going to work, but we’re going to do this anyway because it’s the right thing to do. We’ll get through this pandemic by coming together as a community and supporting each other when we can, and accepting help when we need it. I keep thinking that Swift Current is one of the safest places in the world right now. We’ve got a great health care system, a really strong sense of community responsibility, and we’re small enough that we can make things happen quickly. The outpouring of people offering to support each other on the Facebook group makes me feel really good about our situation.”
McCrimmon, like many in the Southwest, has already been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in her daily life.
“I’ve been working long hours and I’m kind of apprehensive but I know this is manageable. As Swift Current’s public librarian, I’m working to find ways to gather, organize and share the information that our citizens need right now. The library is closed to the public now but I have a giant list of things that I can see need doing. I’ll be asking for lots of help with this because it’s important to get things in place before things get worse. Libraries specialize in responding to the needs of the community and that’s what we’re doing right now. We are all in a very disorienting situation so helping people find reliable information and creating a network of community support will be crucial,” explained McCrimmon.
One of the services offered by members of the group is to deliver essential items such as groceries, pet food, and hygiene products. A poster does specify that they cannot transport people, provide medical care, or pick up prescriptions.
This service has been founded by Stefan Rumpel, Courtney Stewart, Tristan Stewart, Riley Sharp, and McCrimmon.
For anyone who does not have Facebook or access to the Internet, they can call (306) 774-5092 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for the delivery service.
This food delivery group is for volunteers to help minimize the spread and also provide basic supplies to those who are in quarantine or self-isolation. Anyone who is interested in helping can do so on our the Facebook page “Help! SC Pandemic Assistance Network,” which is affiliated with the Swift Current Pandemic Support Network.