Shelly Tygielski, a mindfulness teacher in Florida, just wanted to do something good for her community, and give her local meditation group something positive to do in the earliest days of lockdown. She posted an offer on Instagram last March 14: if you need help because of the pandemic, fill out this short online form; if you can offer help, fill out this other form; volunteers will match people up. She went to bed and awoke to 900 messages.
The project, called Pandemic of Love, exploded from there. Within days Tygielski had volunteers around the country and the world matching up patron with those in need of help in local branches of the Pandemic of Love. Today over 550 volunteers are at work, and they have funneled over $17 million across 128,000 people connections. There are 99 local branches in the US at this writing, and 18 overseas. The local organizers meet by Zoom to share ideas and resources.
I filled out the “Give Help” form for the Minneapolis branch of Pandemic of Love. I will update this post in a few days with notes on how the experience goes.
[Note added 2020-06-02:] Yesterday evening (about 75 hours after I applied) I received an email from Pandemic of Love with contact information for the person I was to help. The email went also to two other donors; apparently the expressed need was greater than our individual offers so the matchmaker combined donors. Smart.
I reached out to the recipient by email but it bounced. Soon another email came from Pandemic of Love HQ apologizing for the bad email address and requesting that we establish contact by phone.
This morning I sent a text introducing myself, unsure whether the given phone number was a mobile or a landline. The text was received and we established a common means to exchange money — in this case Apple Cash. I sent my donation and received the giftee’s sincere thanks.
An extremely satisfying experience. I highly recommend it if you are either in need or in a position to help others.