Now that we’ve been distancing for a bit, reality is starting to hit. We are getting word of friends and family that are testing positive for the coronavirus.

Many in our community are being laid off and don’t know how they will make ends meet. Business owners are carefully evaluating balance sheets and trying to adapt so this pandemic doesn’t mean a permanent demise for their companies. The truth is, we will all feel the impact of COVID-19 in some way.

With each new day it’s becoming harder and harder to sit back and passively watch it all unfold around us. At a time when we want to reach out and take care of each other, we are asked to isolate more and more. This is so counter to the DNA of our community. We feel helpless and are growing restless to do something. That’s why a core group of Gwinnett leaders have come together to launch GwinnettCares.org.

GwinnettCares.org is a website generated out of a grassroot effort of community stakeholders (government, business sector, non-profits, schools, churches, etc.) to streamline communication to Gwinnett’s population of a million people about how to get help and how to help during COVID-19. The Community Foundation of Northeast Georgia, United Way, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services, and 12Stone Church began the conversation, but now a multitude of organizations are working together as a Community Response Team to power it.

GwinnettCares.org offers real-time, trusted information about critical needs right here in our community. Currently, the top three needs are food and supplies, volunteers to lend support to our care systems, and financial donations that will allow us to infuse financial resources into our community when big surges hit.

The website offers specific information about what is needed and how you can help. The health and safety of everyone involved is top priority, so we’ll follow best practices in our action plans. For example, volunteer groups will be small and donation sites are designed for easy drive-through and drop off. When you go to the store for essentials and see a BOGO, see it as a great opportunity to “buy one, GIVE one!” And of course, online giving is 100% germ-free!

GwinnettCares.org is also the best place to direct people needing resources and support. No one needs to be too proud to reach out and ask for help. We are all in this together.

We have lots of amazing nonprofits across our community that are offering a wealth of resources to help see you through. GwinnettCares.org is designed to help us work together to empower our nonprofits with what they need to care for our own.

Our community response team is working daily to synchronize existing infrastructure around the county to infuse resources quickly where they are most needed for the greater good. Task forces of community leaders and subject matter experts are conferencing regularly to communicate needs on the front lines.

Everyone is invited to plug in where you can. Help us spread the word about GwinnettCares.org and visit the site often to stay “in the know.”

Together we will care for our community through COVID-19.

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Paige Havens is a marketing and community relations consultant in Gwinnett who is volunteering her expertise to help keep communication strong in Gwinnett during the coronavirus crisis.

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