Interactive map: Help or get help from your neighbors during COVID-19

Mar 19, 2020

Michigan communities are organizing to help with needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than a dozen informal, grassroots networks are operating around the state.

Sometimes known as mutual aid groups, they work alongside government agencies and charities and often coordinate with them. They can help with grocery deliveries, financial assistance, childcare and more.

If you need this kind of help, or if you have time or a skill to offer, browse the map to find a local group to connect with. If you start your own mutual aid effort in your community — let us know. Send an e-mail to kaye.lafond@interlochen.org or digital@michiganradio.org. We'll be keeping track and updating the map.

They want to do something, for somebody

Penny Krebiehl is helping to organize mutual aid in Grand Traverse County. A few days ago, she and others started circulating a Google form that asks people how they can help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve got 70-plus volunteer signups here in Grand Traverse county," says Krebiehl. "These people wanna do something for somebody, somewhere somehow sometime, and they’re ready.”

Soon, there will be another form for people who need help.

Neighbors helping neighbors

Versions of these same forms are popping up in communities all over Michigan, along with Facebook groups and websites.

Do you have a car, and time to deliver prescriptions to somebody in quarantine? Do you need prescriptions delivered? Maybe you need or can provide emergency childcare. The goal is to match those who need help with those who can give it.

There are at least a dozen mutual aid networks around the state, and they all work a little differently. At the end of the day, mutual aid just means neighbors helping neighbors.

“This is a crisis, and when crisis happens in communities, we start really looking out for each other," says Krebiehl. "I think that’s at the heart of what mutual aid is. It’s not just charity, it’s also solidarity.”

Another option

Krebiehl says mutual aid isn’t meant to replace government agencies or already-existing charities.

She says people in need should first dial 2-1-1. That will connect them with government or nonprofit services in their area.

Mutual aid is another option for those who need it.

“This is about seeing where we fit in the bigger picture of services," says Krebiehl. "We, as in anybody that wants to participate in a mutual aid network. It’s so good for morale and community building."