Saturday, March 28, 2020

Community steps up in droves throughout the valley to help those in need during COVID-19 crisis

Literally hundreds of people volunteer

By Mark Reaman

Every year the last question in our Best of the Butte poll is what is the best part about this place. Every year the top answer is the same: The people and the community.

Proof of that is even more evident during this time of crisis, as the community deals with one of the strangest, most difficult situations it has ever encountered with the spread of the coronavirus throughout the valley. And as people struggle, they also volunteer.

Incident command team volunteer coordinator Arden Anderson said literally hundreds of residents have stepped up to help their neighbors and friends.

“We are getting a tremendous response from many folks from both ends of the valley willing to help,” he said Monday. “I haven’t had time to add them all up but I would estimate I have 200 folks who have offered to help and at least 100 who have already lent a hand in some way.”

Remember, this is a crisis that really took off not that long ago in early March. The call went out—and the community responded.

“We have active programs using volunteers like the Call Center giving information to folks in the valley. They are running eight to 10 phones, 10 hours a day, seven days a week. They are doing a fantastic job,” explained Anderson. “We are getting ready to start up a delivery program for folks who are homebound and lots of folks are stepping up to help with that. There are also a number of volunteers who are helping us run things here at Incident Command.

“I am the volunteer coordinator,” continued Anderson. “So along with running current operations I continue to build a list of potential volunteers to help with future tasks as they come up. My challenge is to match the desires, skills and availability of volunteers with the tasks that must be done. We may not use them all right away but it looks like this incident will go on for a while, so it is good to get the system ready for long-term operations.”

No one knows how long these health measures will be in place. It could be weeks or it could be months. Everyone volunteering is getting support as they try to help their neighbors. “The people who are volunteering at the Call Center are mostly lay people but we always have a medical professional there to be available to answer more complex or in-depth questions,” Anderson explained.

“As for the deliveries, we are just starting this program up but there are quite a few folks wanting to take advantage of the program,” he noted. “Right now, our limiting factor seems to be how many orders the good folks at City Market can process in a day. It will be important for folks to plan ahead and not wait until the last minute to place an order in case it takes us a few days to fulfill it. We also want folks to think about ordering enough to last them for a while so we don’t have to do an order every two days for just five items.”

Anderson wanted to be sure to thank all those who are willing to step up to help during this emergency and he wanted to remind people that they can help in a variety of ways.

“The first is to take care of themselves to avoid getting sick or to isolate themselves if they do get sick to avoid spreading it across the community,” he emphasized. “The next is to take good care of your family—make sure they are following proper procedures to stay safe. Then think about connecting with your friends. You may not meet with them but you can call or video chat to avoid people getting lonely or depressed during uncertain times. Then to the extent someone has extra time to help out they can contact me. We are all in this together and the more we act like a community the easier it is going to be for us all to get through this challenge.”

For those interested in helping, here’s the link. If volunteering for the Call Center, having some medical training would be beneficial but is not required. Volunteers will not be physically exposed to potential patients.

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