"Pandemic of Love" matches people to patrons


Dear TRENDS Diary -

A woman named Shelly Tygielski in Florida started this on March 13 at her kitchen table. The idea was a super grassroots way of matching someone in need due to the COVID-19 crisis with a patron who would be willing to provide that person some support. One-on-one connections aren't necessarily meant to cover rent or make up for payroll, but to help with essential household items: a prescription, diapers, groceries, a bill that’s late and not going to be forgiven.

At a time when we’re socially distant, I love that it really allows for a true one-on-one connection. It gives you a chance to really support another human being.

Her idea started to take off. She put a call out for people to launch local ones in their community. I’ve always considered myself a helper and a connector so it spoke to me.

Most of the folks who submit forms for help mention they haven’t been in this position before. One woman recently wrote, “I’m just trying to get back on my feet…until I get a stable income again..then [I hope] to able to come back to a program like this to help out someone else.”

I tried to cast a pretty wide net when I told Shelly what area I would manage. I listed all the zipcodes in and around Boulder. If any zipcode submitted on the national forms matches our microcommunity, it will automatically come to us. Or people can just fill out our local forms: bit.ly/gethelpBOCO and bit.ly/givehelpBOCO. I tipped up a website too: www.pandemicofloveboulder.com.

So far, I’ve made 45 matches. The average match is $135. It’s been heartwarming. There have been a couple people who prefer to give anonymously, but most people enjoy having the interaction and human connection we’re all so lacking now.

- Jessica Helson, as told to Shay Castle