With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — and the measures taken to slow its spread — people in Bradford are feeling a great deal of uncertainty about how the coming weeks will play out.
In true Bradford fashion, a group of local volunteers is forming to see that the needs of all Bradfordians are met during this time of uncertainty.
A private Facebook group, “Helping Bradford, PA During Corona Virus,” started on Friday, and since that time, it has grown quickly, reaching 451 members as of Sunday evening. That group’s aim is to help anyone in the Bradford area who is struggling due to coronavirus-related changes, such as school closures.
The group held its first meeting via video conference Sunday afternoon.
While attendees don’t see Bradford as currently being in an emergency situation, they know that can change quickly and want to be prepared for any new challenges. Just what the needs will be and how they will be met are still unfolding.
“This is a developing situation and that our group will be evolving to meet the needs as they come up,” Chelsea Leposa, one of the group’s administrators, told The Era.
She hopes the group’s existence will calm some of the fears that locals feel by showing them “that there are people in the community really working through these issues.”
The group brought up ideas to make sure children and at-risk populations, such as people who are elderly or disabled, have their needs met, while limiting exposure to COVID-19 to all involved.
Some of the ideas that were brought up include stocking food pantries, providing childcare and delivering groceries or running other errands for at-risk people. They want to have volunteers available for any needs that arise, too.
Leposa explained, “This group exists as a place to rally volunteers, share information about local needs, and have a place where people who need a helping hand can reach out and immediately be connected to someone who can point them in the right direction or help them directly.”
The group will be working with established organizations and agencies to provide services.
In attendance were representatives from organizations such as YWCA Bradford, which has a food pantry, and The Friendship Table. The new volunteer group hopes to work with organizations such as these and others to see that everyone’s basic needs are met. Meals on Wheels has also been contacted, too.
The Table’s board, the YWCA’s board and Bradford Area School District are all meeting separately today to determine what their needs and abilities are. Also, volunteers with the new group are reaching out to other organizations to partner for the cause, too.
The volunteers will hold another video conference at 6 p.m. today to discuss the new information.
Individuals are looking into the possibility of finding a central location to serve as the group’s temporary command center, getting a phone number that can serve as a hotline for anyone who needs assistance and gathering disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers. One popular suggestion was to offer a “drive-thru” location where people could make food donations in a parking lot without getting out of their cars.
The new volunteer group is not set up to take monetary donations. Anyone who is looking to provide financial help during this can make a donation to an existing local non-profit organization.
A sign-up sheet for volunteers is available on the “Helping Bradford, PA During Corona Virus” Facebook page. Anyone who wants to volunteer but does not have Facebook or does not have access to the group page can reach out to Leposa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-598-9956 and leave a message.