Social media takes on social distancing in Sherwood
A Sherwood woman is turning to social media to allow her fellow citizens to reach out to others during the coronavirus global pandemic.
Jennifer Harris said the idea behind her COVID-19 Facebook private group page evolved before the pandemic dominated the headlines.
"I have a friend, Karin Calde," Harris said. "Before we were under any stay home orders, or anything like that, she had messaged a couple of her friends and said, 'I'm thinking people are going to need help if this goes to pandemic levels.'"
Calde has organized a group called "Team Beaverton," which helps connect people and provide for community members in need in her city. Harris, a former Sherwood city councilor, wanted to do something similar for Sherwood.
Harris recalled a critical moment as she observed the ripple effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in Oregon.
"I saw that Sherwood had closed the senior center," Harris said. "When I was on the City Council, I worked with the senior center. I was the liaison for them."
Harris continued, "I just knew how vital their programming was for our seniors in our community, and how many seniors actually were fed there and relied on that service for their nutrition needs."
Harris decided it was time to start her Facebook page.
"When we first set it up, Katie Carroll, who is my other (site administrator), immediately private-messaged me and said, 'What can I do to help you?'" Harris said. "We had never met. Within three days, we got together, and we met, and talked about what we thought the site should be and how it should look."
It was decided that the site should be a private group specifically focused on Sherwood.
"Team Sherwood" has evolved into what Harris calls social sourcing. A person in the community, for instance, may need a certain type of toilet paper — a commodity that has certainly been in short supply in recent weeks. Through the Facebook group, that person could reach out to neighbors and community members to see if someone has what she needs.
Harris recalls a situation where a person, who was quarantined, was in need of ibuprofen. Another citizen became ill and needed help with taking items to the food pantry.
It is in these ways, assisted by the Facebook page, that citizens can help each other.
"We have financial people who say, 'I have extra income and I can help people right now,' and other people say, 'I don't have any money to give or food to give, but I can run errands,'" Harris said. "So it's really just bringing together the group of people who have something to share or give with the people who need it."
The site has been growing. "The way, I think, we grew so quickly is people started sharing our page on other Sherwood community pages," she said. At press time, the group had 1,545 members.
To become a member, you can visit the Team Sherwood group page on Facebook, or someone can invite you.
A person wanting to join the Facebook group would go to the page and click on the "join group" button. They will be asked to answer three questions. Once those questions are answered, it will send a notice to the admins to approve the member.
"That's working," Harris said. "Katie and I are keeping a really close eye on our messages. If you aren't friends with someone on Facebook, it goes to what they call an 'others' folder, and so we have to proactively go find that folder and make sure that we're checking it on a regular basis."
When the coronavirus story gradually recedes from the front pages, Harris hopes she can continue her Facebook group.
"I think we would consider keeping it open," Harris said. "There's a desire in our community to help each other. It's not like any other community I've personally been a part of. I think this page going forward could certainly support an ongoing need in our community."
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