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A new online service launched by AARP is designed to help users find and organize local volunteer groups to provide financial, emotional and other support to those most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
AARP Community Connections features a searchable directory of mutual aid organizations that have sprung up nationwide to help people at higher risk of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, as well as workers who have been laid off due to the pandemic.
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These informal groups, usually formed and run online, are providing key daily services, such as picking up and delivering groceries and medications, and helping communities stay connected as people practice social distancing to slow the infection's spread.
"We may need to be physically isolated, but we don't have to feel alone,” says Andy Miller, senior vice president of AARP Innovation Labs, which developed the new tool. “Through this innovative platform, people in need of help from — or who want to offer help to — their communities are empowered to engage."
To find volunteer groups near you, type your city and state into the directory's search field and press enter. The directory will produce a list of organizations near you with web links and a locator map.
AARP Community Connections also offers a step-by-step guide to starting a mutual aid group in your area, as well as resources for those feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed or anxious. Users can:
- Request a call from an AARP volunteer or a trained counselor.
- Create an account with Savo, a platform that helps friends and family members coordinate support for loved ones.
- Join “The Mighty,” an online community for people facing health challenges and their caregivers.
AARP Community Connections is free to use, and AARP membership is not required.