As coronavirus moved closer to home, people in the Chequamegon Bay region began to express a desire to do something to help one another. A Facebook group was created and alumna Jenise Swartley ’19 and Assistant Professor of Education Dani O’Brien along with two other people started organizing a network of volunteers.
Called the Chequamegon Bay Community Care Network, it is modeled after a similar volunteer brigade in Appleton, Wisconsin. O’Brien created an online form; Swartley took charge of creating a database. Others began working on a website and hotline and networking with organizations and businesses. “It’s a distributed leadership model, everyone is doing what they do best,” Swartley said.
The goal is to assist people who have isolated themselves as an essential part of stopping the spread of coronavirus. A few days after they posted the form, seventy people had responded to do everything from running errands to providing tech support. Some six-hundred people had joined the Facebook page.
At Northland, Swartley served as NCSA president, helped start the Food Recovery Network, and worked as a researcher at the Center for Rural Communities. “Northland, in general, shaped my world view toward the necessity of community,” she said. “And my experiences there taught me how to work with people, assess need, and respond to community needs.”
Swartley is currently employed at Core Community Resources, a nonprofit in Bayfield, Wisconsin, designed to provide programming and services to support the aging population. The Chequamegon Bay Community Care Network is not part of her job but it pairs well, she said. “It’s all about community and how we’re going to survive and thrive in these times.”