Rev Morgan Schmidt, a Presbyterian pastor in Bend, OR, has created an innovative online group called Pandemic Partners so that people in her community can help one another in these tough times. Morgan essentially found a creative way to crowdsource kindness online. “By posting how-to-guides on its Facebook page, Pandemic Partners, located in the Presbytery of the Cascades, has taken hold in about 18 other communities.”
Morgan said, “Anybody who wants to start out (a new chapter), I just invite them into the group and make sure they have a launch kit.” She added, “We give it away as fast as possible, because we have seen how powerful it is in our community.”
Pandemic Partners is all about people with a specific need identifying their need online and then simply connecting to someone who can meet that need. For example, a man who manages a senior apartment complex reported that the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to their communal dining for 45 residents… many of whom do not have dining tables. They posted a request for TV trays and got more than they requested.
Another woman in Bend wanted to make a gift of a breast pump to her sister who was preparing to give birth, however, she found that she did not have the money to ship it. Not only did someone send her the money to cover the shipment, but this woman was a former lactation specialist who also included additional helpful materials to aid with the coming delivery.
Morgan added, Pandemic Partners provides a way for neighborhoods all over her larger community:
- For neighbors to both identify their needs and for other neighbors to respond
- Collaborates with whatifwecould.com that hosts volunteer opportunities and ways to donate locally to the pandemic needs
- Advocates for social service providers, non-profits, and local government to build and sustain an updatable community resource document path is available to the public
- Provides a hub for reliable, updated in formation and resources.
Morgan reports that Pandemic Partners is spreading to other communities in Denver, San Antonio, in rural communities in Minnesota and Seattle where she went to school. In fact, she is a former student of Dwight Friesen’s with whom she took a course on the study of the Parish Collective: “A Global movement of Christians re-imagining what it means to be the church in and with and for the neighborhood.”
Why don’t you, your church and those in your neighborhood consider creating ways online to become a bit of the compassion of Jesus in this increasingly troubled time? We would love to hear and share your stories too.
2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in an Era of Accelerating Change by Tom Sine and Dwight J. Friesen
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 Mike Ferguson, “A Presbyterian pastor in Oregon says her role in the online group Pandemic Partners is ‘to cheer the community on,’” Presbyterian Mission.org, March 30, 2020.
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