by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached into many American households and communities in recent weeks and will be acutely felt still more in days to come. Amid the fast-changing developments and wealth of misinformation out there, it can be hard to know where to turn for solid information and help, and how best to support the local community. So Dickinson has created a web portal for those needing assistance in the Carlisle region and for those looking for optimal ways to help neighbors in need.
Dickinson’s COVID-19 Resources portal is a clearinghouse for resources and information focused on individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits. It was launched April 20 by Dickinson’s Center for Civic Learning & Action (CCLA) in cooperation with Carlisle’s Community Action Network (CAN), a group founded and led by President Margee Ensign that meets weekly to share information and resources for navigating the pandemic.
Through the portal, businessowners can access critical information, such as how to set up small-business gift cards, the latest social-distancing guidelines in Pennsylvania, a financial-survival guide, instructions for agriculture-grant applications and tips on how to apply for small-business loans. Individuals will find links to COVID-19 fact sheets in English, Arabic, English, Russian, Somali and Spanish; verified information on stimulus checks, unemployment resources and food, health care and housing assistance; a sign-up for Pennsylvania’s official COVID-19 news briefs; advice for individuals with incarcerated family members; support for youth struggling with social isolation and more.
There are also useful links to help visitors identify meaningful and effective ways to give back through the site’s “give help” tab. Volunteer opportunities include virtual tutoring, food bank support, responding to 211 calls and preparing meals for homeless shelters. Donations are also needed for local, regional and national organizations working hard to help those most in need.
According to CCLA Executive Director Gary Kirk, the web clearinghouse will continue to expand as new resources and programs arise to support Carlisle-region businesses, individuals and the nonprofits who serve them. Those with a need or resource to share are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
He adds that it’s just one aspect of the college’s multipronged approach to meet the fast-evolving needs posed by the pandemic, and it reflects the college’s strong partnership with the local community and President Margee Ensign’s leadership in the Carlisle region.
“As Carlisle and the region respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, our community is fortunate to have many resources available to assist individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits,” says Kirk, who’s working to roll out new related CCLA initiatives. “Our goal is to keep the site up-to-date as community needs evolve, even after the pandemic is officially over.”
“We’re working to make sure our community sustains its most vulnerable members and then plans for a brighter future,” Ensign says. “Our commitment to our neighbors includes making certain everyone can find the information they need to make informed decisions during these unprecedented times. Sharing these critical resources in one easy-to-find place was simply the right thing to do.”
Read more stories about how members of the Dickinson community near and far have responded to emerging needs and challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.
Published April 21, 2020