Information and Inspiration: Midcoast communities find a new way to support one another amid Coronavirus distancing—Facebook

This story is the first of several that have been written by professor Dave Blow’s journalism classes that will be published to the Spartan addressing the ways that COIVD-19 is affecting students’ hometown communities. 

As the tourist season rapidly approaches the Five-Towns community of Midcoast Maine, streets and harbors distinctly lack the classic bustle of visitors. The recently instituted social distancing practices and non-essential business lockdown has made this once incredibly interactive summer community into a near ghost town.

Amidst the fear and stress of this pandemic, citizens have proved their collective strength by taking to social media to band together and contribute what they can to those in need. The creation of the Facebook page, “Five-Towns Samaritans (COVID-19),” has connected over 900 members of this community with helpful resources, volunteer services or simply the average good samaritan looking to make an impact in their community.

“You might need help or you might want to respond to a request for help—this is a place for both those things,” said page administrator Anneli Skaar. “It has encouraged a lot of people to share their inspiring stories and keep others positive.”

A screenshot of the 5 towns samaritans facebook page.

Anecdotes of community involvement are littered across the page from free Skype yoga classes to links on pop-up face mask distribution in the area. Community members have been wildly responsive to such valuable resources and motivation during these trying times.

Local educator and parent Jess Day-Lynch has been frequenting the page since it started and currently offers virtual music class for parents with little ones at home.

“By no means has this lockdown been easy, but it’s been great to see other families in similar situations … All we can do is support one another and give as much as we can,” Day-Lynch said.

Another popular thread on the page is “Katie’s Virtual Farm”— a series of educational videos posted by local farm owner Katie Learthy that remotely-schooled kids can watch and learn about livestock.

“For people who are stuck with little kids, it can be a happy pause on their anxiety. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from parents who are happy to have something more interactive like this while their kids are home,” Learthy said.

Besides providing resources to those needing assistance during this pandemic, many members are also using the platform to help counteract the prejudice and fear-mongering that has resulted from a lack of information.

“We’re lucky to have not had to address too many issues like this yet, but I’m afraid that as we see greater numbers of the virus closer to home and people become even more fearful, that people may lose sight of the purpose of this bulletin board,” Skaar said.

Though Skaar hopes individuals will continue to use the page as an educational outlet, she believes that prejudice often follows peak moments of fear.

“At the end of the day, the page’s purpose is to remain positive and hopeful,” she said.

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