How to Be Helpful during COVID-19
Now is a very good time to be a helpful person, and the best ways to do that look a little different than typical forms of service.
In response to the outpouring of community needs, Golden, the company I founded to make service more accessible for everyone, is doing something radical:
Today, we are pre-releasing a free website to match neighbors with each other and expedite the delivery of critical personal needs like delivering items, checking on each other, and helping with everyday tasks virtually and in-person. We believe Mutual Aid is an empathetic, effective, and scalable way to care for each other in a time of Social Isolation.
Please go to https://mutualaid.goldenvolunteer.com/ to post needs for yourself and others and to provide for needs posted by others.
By naming this platform Mutual Aid, we are recognizing the work of modern, grassroots organizers who provide for their local communities and celebrating a rich history of these practices over centuries. In the generous tradition of Mutual Aid, this platform is and will always be free for anyone to use.
By “Pre-Release,” we mean that the website does most things users need it to do, but it does not include the full feature set we intended it to have at launch, and it has not been tested as extensively as production software. We strongly encourage potential users to consider our purpose-built alternative to spreadsheets, emails, and group chats, and also stress that you use good judgement, the buddy system, and CDC health guidance.
Please feel free to read on for further background and thank you for your support!
For those who enjoy #longread posts, here’s a bit more about why peer-to-peer Mutual Aid has become our immediate priority:
In supporting thousands of organizers in nonprofit, government, private, educational, and healthcare sectors, we have partnered through a broad range of volunteering work conditions. Each condition calls for different methods to address needs, online and offline, skills-based and non-skills-based, etc.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is officially an emergency. In many ways, the response resembles conventional disaster relief activities, but in this case, the order of operations is unusual.
Typically, disaster relief is broken up into three different phases:
Before: Preparing for potential and inevitable threats by making contingency plans, reducing risks, stockpiling resources, and setting up emergency contacts
During: Getting out of the way for trained professionals to do their jobs, remaining calm, acting rationally, and thinking ahead about next steps
After: Identifying damages and opportunities, prioritizing them, and distributing care towards them from whatever entities are in a position to offer aid
Throughout these phases, care is delivered through established channels. Some of those channels work better than others. For example, if you live on top of a mountain without a fire station, it may take longer for a fire truck to arrive than it would for a truck to arrive around the corner from a station.
If you recall the most recent cycle of wildfires in California, you may remember the devastation experienced by the town of Paradise. Paradise was an intimate community, in a vulnerable location, with limited established infrastructure. It’s a case study that many emergency service providers know well because most isolated communities don’t have the same access to resources that the 50% of the American population that lives in cities has.
But isolation isn’t just about geography. People with disabilities and medical conditions are isolated; people who live alone are isolated. These are the populations most of us are worried about protecting against the spread of Coronavirus.
With Coronavirus, we have to practice all the typical before / during / after disaster routines at the same time because there are currently not enough established resources to provide for all us, especially the most vulnerable among us, at the same time once we’re sick.
In addition to following directions of policy makers and clear the path for healthcare providers to triage and treat those affected with Coronavirus, we can practice safe-distancing precautions in accounting for and easing the burdens of the most vulnerable and isolated members of our communities.
Whether you’re looking for neighbor-to-neighbor help, to provide it virtually or in person, or to organize and track your group’s activities online and offline through a free, branded set of tools please visit:
If you’re looking to organize or participate in other relevant and traditional forms of volunteering like virtual, independent, flexible, training, donations, and more, you can do so in any of the award-winning Golden products.