COVID-19: This WeHo Group Breaks Through Social Barriers With Email and Phone Calls

The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has put many of us in a dark place with the directive to socially isolate and the risk of going broke as businesses are forced to close.

But there are a few bright spots, one of them being WeHo Neighbors Helping Neighbors (WNHN). The group was created last week to connect those in and near West Hollywood who need help with those who want to offer that help.

WNHN’s Facebook page is full of posts about special services offered by local businesses (especially restaurants) and government services to those in isolation now. But perhaps more important, WNHN has a Google page where one can sign up to offer help one on one, and a page where those looking for that help can request it.

The WNHN group was put together quickly last weekend as the coronavirus, and anxiety about it, spread.

“Last week, my neighbor Rebeca Mojica contacted me and said she wants to organize a group to help neighbors during this crisis and asked me if I could help organize,” Sepi Shyne told WEHOville. “I said yes and we discussed some of the ideas. She then put a call out on Nextdoor to see if other community members wanted to help to help organize too.

“Over the weekend we had our first Zoom call with seven incredible women. We discussed everything from our mission, branding, PR, Google forms, outreach to the city and businesses, volunteer training, resource links and social media creation. We divided up the tasks and started working on them right away. We had three more people join and one left the group, and now we consist of eight amazing women and one amazing man. “

The group’s initial members are Mojica and Shyne, Jessica Sykes, Jessica Hencier, Catherine Eng, Marie Keeler, Terra Englebardt, Gregory Rutchik, Amanda Bleich, and Keely Field. So far eight more have joined.

Shyne, who is a lawyer and is running for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council in the Nov. 3 election, said the group put things together quickly. “We set a deadline of Sunday for branding and by Monday we had everything set up for review and editing.  We went by Tuesday. We chose to call the group WeHo Neighbors Helping Neighbors. “

“We are a grassroots collective of residents in West Hollywood and WeHo-adjacent neighborhoods who serve senior citizens, people with disabilities, those in immuno-suppressed households, and other vulnerable residents with communication (phone and/or email) check-ins and links to community resources during this health crisis,” Shyne said.

“Our hope is that during this time of social distancing we can provide connection and support to our neighbors in need.”

Here’s a list of what volunteers can do:

  • Make 10- to 15-minute phone call check-ins six times a week with someone who lives alone (This is primarily what the group does).
  • Send daily email check-ins to someone who lives alone
  • Pray (over the phone) with someone.
  • Volunteer at a local food bank or other organization that needs assistance
  • Help NHN promote its services by doing graphic design, helping with scheduling or phone interviews, posting flyers, etc.

“Check ins can help people during this unprecedented time of social distancing because people can often feel isolated and lonely, and we want to make sure we are there to connect with resident and be a positive voice they can depend on during this crisis,” Shyne said. “People can request calls, emails or texts. If for some reason a match does not workout, and you let us know, we will pair you with another volunteer. “

Shyne said she sees a life for WNHN beyond the coronavirus. “COVID-19 is the spark for this group, but we are hoping that we can utilize our volunteers again if we face something similar. If a matched volunteer/client connection becomes a friendship then even better! It is always wonderful when neighbors get to know one another. “

Residents interested in receiving daily calls or emails or perhaps delivery services, are asked to complete an online form.  Then WNHN’s Rebeca Mojica will and match you with a volunteer


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Kim
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Kim

Well done! Beyond the practicalities of helping with chores/errands, the ability to help decrease the anxiety surrounding these tasks and the emotional support options are invaluable. Thank you!

cathy
Guest
cathy

Thank you Rebeca, Sepi and all of you for putting your thoughts into action. This should go national…it gives hope to so many. Thank you and bless you all.

Steve Martin
Guest
Steve Martin

In the avalanche of grim news, this is a much needed story that inspires and motivates us to come together. Great job!

Alan Strasburg
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Alan Strasburg

Wow, hats off to Sepi and a team of dedicated people who see the big picture response to community need. Bravo!

Vigilant
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Vigilant

Bravo Rebeca and Sepi for championing this. In my personal experience back east, this was always the norm in good times and bad, especially for our elders. Some of them are too proud to ask for help and simply shocked that this is not the norm. In their experience they were always on the front lines in war and peace. On a global scale, it’s absolutely tragic that this administration diminished our country’s participation in G20 and other global affairs. Whether or not one believes in global warming or not…… when Mother Nature speaks…….we need be ready in a global… Read more »

Eric B - WeHo 20
Guest
Eric B - WeHo 20

Humanity: It moves me to see/hear/read/learn of bright minds collaborating in this selfless task of assisting those in need, not to mention neighbors who we often pass w/out so much of a glance or greeting. Weho continues to amaze me, YOU ROCK. I salute & thank you volunteers. Let your light shine and dance in the emotion of grateful smiles from all whom you touch. In the words of a great genre of music that continues to inspire the world “ I get by with a little help from a friend. Do you need anybody?”

Manny
Guest
Manny

It’s also important to encourage residents to reach out directly to their neighbors. The person on the other side of your drywall or the person six feet away in the house next door. Give them a call or knock on their door and see if they need anything.

If we all look after the people living closest to us, the ones we know, or should know, then we’ll all be ok.

Barbara
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Barbara

Thanks Manny. Too often we forget to reach out to our neighbors next door, down the street or around the corner. Older adults also need someone to pick up groceries, medicine, and other essentials. Someone to walk a dog, perhaps. While a phone call is nice, there are many other things that need to be done.

Susan Allen
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Susan Allen

Thank you for the article on WNHN. So many people talk about helping but actually getting it done is phenomenal COVID-19 is fast moving but it is no match for women with a mission. Maybe other neighbors can replicate their actions

Kimberly C
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Kimberly C

This is a wonderful idea, and a good way to help our neighbors feel cared for and connected to one another, particularly while in isolation. Knowing that someone will be checking in to say hello and be sure that they are still OK will be comforting to some of our seniors living alone in particular. Some of us have been doing a bit of this with our closest neighbors and friends that we already know may have a need, but having this group will enable everyone to reach out citywide and connect volunteers with those who need checking in on… Read more »

Virginia Gillick
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Virginia Gillick

I think this is an excellent idea. I admire these women for cultivating the idea and an organization to facilitate those ideas. Thank you ladies for getting this started.

LauraB
Guest
LauraB

This is a great idea. Isolation in normal times is bad enough, but mixed with fear
in uncertain times is so much worse. Bravi to all involved for being such good
neighbors and providing this valuable service.

Stephanie Harker
Guest
Stephanie Harker

I want to commend this group of women for stepping up to the plate during the crisis to help their neighbors. Thank you.