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New Bend group offers help to those in need amid coronavirus challenges

Pandemic Partners on Facebook wants to help with needs, large or small

(Update: comments from 'Pandemic Partners-Bend' co-creator)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A new Facebook group was created Thursday to "respond to emerging needs of our neighbors during this challenging time." It's called 'Pandemic Partners-Bend.'

One of the two administrators of the page told NewsChannel 21 it was created in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. The 'About' section says, in part, "It's simple - if you need help, ask. If you can help, respond out of the goodness of your heart."

Pandemic Partners-Bend was launched and is managed by the staff at First Presbyterian Church, for the sake of the Bend community. However, the page is "not religiously motivated," they said, and anyone can ask for assistance and have their voice heard.

"I think we are living in times where fear is easy - fear comes really easily. People are more and more separated by what they are afraid of."

Morgan Schmidt, Pandemic Partners-Bend

The page encourages people to reach out, no matter how small or big the request. That includes running errands, picking up groceries and getting help with technology, to stay connected with loved ones.

Organizers understand that, right now, some people either have to or want to stay home. Now, those people can get the help they need from others in the community.

"I mean, I think we are living in times where fear is easy = fear comes really easily," said co-creator Morgan Schmidt. "People are more and more separated by what they are afraid of. Obviously, no part of me wishes this tragedy or crisis on anyone, but this is a chance for us to show each other the love that maybe we should be showing each other all along."

Schmidt said many of those people have been posting that they are ready and willing to assist others, which is great. But she said that's also a problem -- that most of the people who need help might not know how to use Facebook.

"(We are) hoping that through opportunities like this to share our story, and then our members also inviting others kind of into this network of people that we'll be able to reach those who actually do need the assistance in this season,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt said they are also working on creating a "warm line" for people to call for help, which would allow those who are not as savvy with technology to get connected to the right resources.

Schmidt is not sure when that would be ready, but she's hoping to make progress on it over the weekend.

The First Presbyterian Church sent out a press release Thursday night regarding the Facebook page:

"It started as a private FB group in response to the COVID-19 crisis asking people to request help and offer help with whatever neighbors might need. It quickly received a few hundred reactions and responses from people who were more than willing to help in this time of feeling helpless and isolated. Responses are coming from people who can help picking up groceries, prescription, auto help, etc.

Morgan Schmidt, Pastor of Teens and 20 somethings at First Presbyterian Church, said, 'We want to be able to respond to emerging needs of our neighbors during this challenging time. It's simple - if you need help, ask. If you can help, respond out of the goodness of your heart. This can include running errands, picking up groceries, getting help with technology to stay connected to loved ones, rides to appointments, etc.

"In a time where fear can be overwhelming, we choose kindness, generosity, and love for our neighbors. We believe that we belong to each other, and that we will get through this best as we help one another. We have spoken with the Mayor as well as Deschutes County and believe this is the best way to handle what has been put before us.'

Currently, there are teams being assembled that can handle the 'warm line' to respond to the needs of our community as they arise, one at a time. Deschutes County will continue to handle the questions that arise about the COVID-19 virus itself.  This 'warm line' is meant to connect those that need and those that can provide. Responses will be handled as quickly as possible.

Right now, we are communicating through the Facebook group Pandemic Partners-Bend. We will update the community through the media once we have more information.

The mission of First Presbyterian Church of Bend is creating spaces of grace to cultivate hope, healing and purpose."

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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