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Mutual Aid Lynn providing connections during coronavirus crisis

By Thor Jourgensen | March 20, 2020

LYNN — Armed with resource lists, social media and compassion for one another, local residents are organizing Mutual Aid Lynn to provide connections while coronavirus continues to necessitate social distancing.

“In this time of growing uncertainty, fear, and isolation, it’s more important than ever for us to come together for mutual support and solidarity,” said Lynn resident Jonathon Feinberg.

Organizing and development director for New Lynn Coalition, Feinberg lives with his fiancée and their roommate, and is glad to help create a community to weather coronavirus even as people practice social distancing in an effort to halt the contagious virus’ spread.

Information about the network is available by email lynnmutualaid@gmail.com or on Facebook at “Lynn MA Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.”

“The idea behind it is simple — connect with your neighbors to maintain connection, share resources, and support each other through this,” said Lynn resident and Nazarene Church pastor Heather Ardrey.  

Organized around “neighborhood pods” and “neighborhood point people,” the network is intended to reinforce neighbor-to-neighbor connections and communication. 

Ardrey described Mutual Aid neighborhood pods as groups of “10 to 30 households who stay in touch and help resource each other.”

“Neighbors meeting neighbors (at a safe physical distance) can connect those who do not have access to technology or limited use of the technology they have with the resources they need,” she said. 

A first-year master’s degree in social work candidate at Salem State University, Nicholas Ventura is working from home. He said Lynn Mutual Aid’s community strengthening goals can extend beyond coronavirus’ duration. 

“This can make a positive impact in our community because it’s breaking down barriers and bringing people together and share their time and talents to help those in need during this time of uncertainty,” Ventura said.
“We are asking for folks to sign up as Neighborhood Point People, where you’d take on the responsibility of reaching out to your neighbors, moderating a neighborhood group chat, Whatsapp group, Next Door network, or whatever other form of communication works best for your neighborhood and staying in touch with the other point people for resource sharing,” Mutual Aid participants stated in an online posting. 

Suggested opportunities for participation include making and distributing information brochures listing community resources and other vital information people need as they deal with childcare, work, education and health insecurity during coronavirus.

“It’s really important in times of crisis that we get to know our immediate neighbors to talk and to help meet needs including food and warmth,” Feinberg said.

Other proposed Mutual Aid ideas include translating resource information into the many languages spoken by Lynn residents, tapping into help already provided by community organizations and creating a hotline. 

“When the scope of the pandemic became clearer toward the end of last week, I was struck by how the measures we are increasingly asked to put in place will have the deepest negative impact on people who are already vulnerable,” said Ardrey.