When Pittsboro residents and real estate agents Yvonne Beal and Lisa Skumpija started the Facebook group “Caremongering Pittsboro” last week, they did not realize how far it would …
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When Pittsboro residents and real estate agents Yvonne Beal and Lisa Skumpija started the Facebook group “Caremongering Pittsboro” last week, they did not realize how far it would reach.
Caremongering — a purposeful verbal antithesis to fearmongering, according to Beal — was created as a platform for “sharing and organizing community resources in response to Covid-19.” And despite its name, Beal and Skumpija said the goal is for it to serve all of Chatham County, including Siler City, Pittsboro, Goldston and all surrounding areas.
For Beal, it all started with worry about the virus and its potential impact on Chatham County residents. Unable to sleep one night, and stressing about all the uncertainty of the world right now, Beal got on Facebook, where she noticed a caremongering movement that began in her native Canada.
It was called about the same time Skumpija saw a Facebook post about a Raleigh wholesale vegetable seller whose customers are restaurants that have been closed to in-dining. The wholesaler was selling its goods to the public, and Skumpija began thinking about the local farmers who are in similar circumstances.
The next day, Beal and Skumpija — who work together at Realty World — created the Facebook page in hopes of helping to connect local businesses, farms and residents who were struggling. Within the first hour, the page had 100 followers and in just over 24 hours, there were 1,000. As the page grew — there are more than 1,700 members now — so did its mission.
“It started with food and went to everything,” Skumpija said. “We were concerned about kids who were at home they rely on schools for meals and how to connect with local food. Then came homeschooling ideas. And then there was the bread shop giving away excess bread connecting to a Siler City daycare. And then it was pharmacy mobile services. It all came together in one avenue.”
“We’re not a ‘for sale’ site,” Skumpija said. “There’s plenty of sites for that. We are about helping each other and helping local small businesses and farms survive. This is more of a neighborly, community place.”
It’s also not a page for COVID-19 updates, news or other information; the pair urges residents to seek out reliable news sources for that type of information. Instead they want the page to be used for the “redistribution of resources in the case that stockpiling prevents people from accessing basics” as well as requests for aid or support. It has also become a hub for residents to organize to help in community efforts in some way.
For example, a local resident posted that they were immunosuppressed and needed a face mask to go to the doctor. Quickly, local residents volunteered to give their spares and deliver on the person’s front porch. It also includes homeschooling options, updates of food and supply availability from local stores, restaurants that are serving take-out and delivery and ways to support food banks. There is also a significant effort for those with the ability to make homemade masks for local hospitals.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Skumpija said. “It’s been rewarding to see the community come together.”
“I think it’s been heartwarming,” Beal said. “I’m not super-involved in the community though I love living and working here and all this community affords me. This is a big county, people are losing their jobs and this is a good way to bring people together. It’s been great to see all the people willing to chip in and help each other.”
Facebook users can visit the page by searching for “Caremongering Pittsboro.”
Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.