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Community forums open doors for helping others

WESTFIELD-Lending a helping hand to others in these turbulent times can be a godsend to many – especially older adults – and social media platforms including We Love Westfield Community Forum and Experience Westfield and More are allowing city residents to offer their assistance.

“If we have the ability to help our neighbors, I feel it is our social responsibility to do so,” said Lesley Lambert, creator and head administrator of the We Love Westfield Community Forum on Facebook.

Lesley Lambert, creator of the We Love Westfield Community Forum on Facebook, has seen an increase in postings of area residents offering to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has taken hold across the globe, Lambert said she has seen an increase in Facebook posts of local residents offering to help their neighbors.

“My initial post offering to help with errands was met with so many others commenting that they, too, want to help,” said Lambert. “It seems almost daily someone is offering assistance. I think that speaks for the strength of community we have in Westfield. It is truly a great city to live in.”

Lambert said her initial thought about posting was based on her work with seniors and her commitment on the board of directors for the Friends of the Westfield Senior Center group.

“I know how difficult it can be for elders to deal with extreme circumstances,” said Lambert. “Many of them are health compromised and shouldn’t be out running errands.”
Lambert added that many seniors don’t have local family members to assist them when needs arise.

“I wanted to let them know that I would be happy to fill that position in their lives,” said Lambert.

While Lambert is “doing everything possible” currently for her day job, she noted that technology has been a “huge assistance” for her dealings.

“When I need to leave to do something physically present, I am taking all of the suggested precautions,” she said.

Lambert said her concern for others being “isolated” is why she is reaching out to help – and after viewing the many comments from her original post – it is abundantly clear that others responding to her message also seek to follow her lead.

“If we become too isolated, one day we will be the ones that need help, but the tradition of looking out for our neighbors may be gone,” said Lambert. “I want my children to see me reaching out to my neighbors and my community in service. I want them to see this and learn from it so their generation will carry it forward.”

Lambert’s posting March 12 read in part, “If you are an older person, immune compromised, or just prone to being ill, I am offering my assistance. We can set it up so that there’s minimal contact. I will do the errands for free, just need to be paid for your supplies. Please private message me through Facebook if you need help.”

While Lambert has not received any messages from residents seeking assistance yet, her message touched many who read her words.

From “you’re an angel,” “beautiful act of kindness,” and “that is sweet of you,” to “amazing gesture … need more peeps like you in this world,” there were others as well who extended their Facebook account to receive private messages should someone need help.

“I told everyone that I was there to help and they can reach out on the forum or in a private message,” said Lambert, adding, “These are times where it really does take a village!”

For Danny Nason, who oversees the Experience Westfield and More Facebook page, he too has seen people reaching out and wanting to help their neighbors.

Danny Nason is the administrator of the Experience Westfield and More Facebook page. (Submitted photo)

“When this all started I wondered if there were people that would be afraid to reach out if they needed help,” said Nason. “I try to keep Experience Westfield as friendly as possible, and from some of the responses I can see there are quite a few people that are willing to help if others reach out to them.”

Early this week, there were close to 35 posts from area residents responding to Nason’s comments – many offering to do shopping for those who need assistance.

“I see people offering to lend a helping hand and go shopping for those that need it,” said Nason. “I believe it’s the trickle down effect, quite often when my wife and I are out and about, people mention how appreciative they are to have the site available to them.”

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