Coronavirus

Resources Connect People Who Remain at Home

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With Ohioans under a state order to stay at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, area companies, nonprofits and volunteer groups are coming up with creative ways to help residents from filing applications for assistance to delivering groceries and prescriptions to vulnerable people to increasing the ability to just talk to someone.

Vince Brancaccio, CEO of Help Network of Northeast Ohio has expanded hours for people to call its Warmline for people to just have someone to talk to, especially during this time. People can call 866 303 7337 from noon to 8 p.m. daily. In the next few days, the network looks to expand those hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily as it sets up stations for those phone lines with social distancing measures.

“Right now we’re seeing an increase in calls in regards to unemployment and how to questions about other programs and some calls about the virus itself,” Brancaccio said. 

But that is expected to change with Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to Stay-At-Home. 

“We’re only a few days into it. Seeing increase in calls some people are anxious. Next week reality is going to set in and we’re going to get a lot of calls,” he said.

To handle the influx, Brancaccio has cross-trained and reassigned employees from community centers that are now closed. The Warmline is a separate line for individuals who want to talk about anxiety and stress the coronavirus may be causing or anything that may be on their minds.

The crisis hotline is also active at 211 or 330 747 2696, which has trained people to deal with suicide and crisis calls and provide callers with information community services available. So far this week, calls to 211 have increased 38% over last week, he said.

“We are trying to divert calls so that our hotline workers can focus on crisis calls and information and referral,” Brancaccio said. 

For community residents who want to help, they are finding creative ways to keep people connected via social media.

Social media pages offer outlets for people to ask and offer information, supplies, lists of take out restaurants that are open and volunteers who will delivery groceries older adults and immunocompromised are available social media, particularly Facebook. Users can search under groups or see resource for contact information for some of the known sites at this time: Mutual Aid Youngstown, Mahoning Valley Supply Chain, Grocery Grab Volunteers, Home Delivery / Takeout in the Valley, Shenango Valley Take Outs, Trumbull County Take Out, Mahoning County Takeout, Kind Hearts, Blessed Souls.

For a complete list of Community Resources, go to BusinessJournalDaily.com/coronavirus-resources.

An example of the posts is from Mahoning Valley Supply Chain, Kaleel Bros., Inc., 761 Bev Road, Youngstown:

“We have toilet paper, paper towels and just about anything else you might need. No need to leave your vehicle. Call ahead to order, stay in your vehicle and our trained staff will bring your order to your vehicle.”

Followers are posting photos of stores that have restocked, while other sites offer menus and photos of food they received from delivery take out food services.

Matt Ellis, an Ohio State University student who is home in Boardman and some friends wanted to help older adults and immunocompromised people get groceries with a page called Grocery Grab Volunteers. Ellis, his brother, Michael, Sara Kauffman and Nick Stamp came up with idea and built the page. In two days they have 20 volunteers who want to delivery groceries to people in need and who shouldn’t leave their houses. Deliveries are available to residents in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

“We wanted to do this to make sure that people can remain safe. We want to make it clear here for everybody, especially those who are at greatest risk so we make it through this,” Ellis said.

Volunteers set up phone interviews for people who need groceries and the person must take his/her temperature and send a photo to Ellis. A list of groceries and money can be left in a prearranged spot outside. A driver will then get the items from the store, call the person that delivery has arrived and it is on the front porch. Change from the transaction is left in the bag of items. 

Ellis also said he worked with health officials and drivers are wearing gloves and taking precautions to remain safe.

The moderator and group of members behind Mutual Aid Youngstown sought out Kevin O’Donnell of Dayton for help. 

O’Donnell and group of several friends provide the backend and administrative systems for social media groups throughout Ohio. The group operates out of Columbus providing administrative help for the local groups get grounded and things in place. He said the Mutual Aid Youngstown is still developing stages.

“The philosophy of mutual aid is everyone has needs and everyone has resources they can provide,” O’Donnell said. “Someone may be in need, but they can provide child care or transportation.”

He said statewide coordination is key because sites are learning from each other and sharing best practices. 

The Central Ohio Group is working well by having different assigned to tasks like food and water, data, educational materials and external communications. The Central Ohio Mutual Aid now has 10,000 members.

“In Dayton is one that is responding needs. Someone will post what he or she need and someone will respond ‘I have that.’ Mutual aid is very old; it’s how ancestors survived. It’s a community showing we’ve got your back no matter what. That has been the most gratifying because it’s a pure expression neighbor helping neighbor,” O’Donnell said. 

Traci Balentine, a business consultant in Boardman, is one of the founding members of Mutual Aid Youngstown. She said a group people who wanted to take care of people in the community. 

“It’s a nice sense of community. Who knows what will come out of it? Maybe it will change the attitude of those who become invested and become a positive for the community,” she said. “Many kids who were out on their own are now back home. We get so busy some times that we don’t take time to learn what’s going on in our own homes. Being forced to be at home may lead to resurgence on family and values.”

For a complete list of Community Resources, go to BusinessJournalDaily.com/coronavirus-resources.

Pictured: Nancy Clausen has been a Help Network volunteer for five years.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.