Even in this current state of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 crisis, UNC alum Lex Coelho is seeing her community come together to support one another.
Coelho and her sister Amelie created Chapel Hill Community Post last week to serve as a forum for both needs and offers that community members have as a result of COVID-19.
DTH staff writer Jordan Barish interviewed Lex Coelho about why they made the site and what they hope it can accomplish.
The Daily Tar Heel: How did the idea for the Chapel Hill community post website come about?
Lex Coehlo: I think it was last Thursday that Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announced that they would be moving spring break up and then going remote for the time being. My sister Amelie is a junior at Chapel Hill High, and we realized that once that went out, there were a lot of posts on NextDoor and Facebook that we were getting notifications for of people saying they either needed help because of this or could offer help. We realized that there were a lot of different streams of information and thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we could put it all into one place where anyone could access it?’
DTH: What are the goals of the community post?
LC: We were just trying to have one place that could archive all of that information where people could go back and view these needs or offers that their neighbors had and contact them directly.
DTH: What has the growth and impact of the website looked like thus far?
LC: We’re nearing 4,000 views from about 1,200 different community members. The cool thing to look at is that we’ve had over a 100 people click to either donate somewhere, connect with someone or see an official resource on COVID-19 in the area. It’s been fun to track that to see that, ‘Oh, over 25 people have decided to volunteer in their neighborhood to run and get groceries.'
DTH: Why is togetherness so important in times like these, even when people can’t physically be together?
LC: I think that it’s going to be really difficult for everyone to be in this social distancing period where we don’t have our normal lives. Specifically for people who are at risk, it’s an increased time for fear. What we saw online of people starting to come together, that’s what we love about our community. We wanted to find a way to keep that going because it already existed. I think in that way, we can help the people who are the most vulnerable in our Chapel Hill-Carrboro community in this time of crisis.
DTH: Are there any ways you wish to expand the site?
LC: Part of the reason that this is working in connecting people is because we’ve kept it local. I think that the platform and the idea can apply to any locality. In terms of Chapel Hill, I know there’s definitely people that we’re still missing so doing whatever we can to ensure that we’re reaching all of the people who might be in need during this time.
Those wishing to submit a post to the site, either as a need or an offer, can fill out a submission form on the website or call the submission line at 919-213-6051.
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