by Tina Cole-Mullins
As times change into use of the internet and modern technology, neighbors are finding new ways to connect and help each other with life’s struggles.
The Stockbridge area is fortunate to have three groups using social media for networking, helping needy families and giving back to the community.
Mary Marks, of Stockbridge, said she likes “the willingness to help people without needing a full back story.” She also says the groups are “providing people with the opportunity to ask for help without feeling judged or scowled upon.”
This positive “uprising for change” originated in 2012 with the creation of Facebook group Munith/Stockbridge Pay It Forward. Its goal was one of “neighbors helping neighbors” with economic woes, either big or small.
Heather Walling, founder of the Their Guardian, Their Voice, soon joined the effort, making sure families also had resources available to them in a time of crisis and need.
The baby of these sister groups would be Wake Up Stockbridge & Surrounding Communities. Not even two years old, Wake Up brings to the trio an organized “Project of the Month,” often focusing on the needs of charities, churches, groups and programs.
February’s “Project of the Month” is a school supply drive for the Stockbridge PTO. The project coincides with the PTO’s Stuff the Bus with school supplies, on the weekend of Feb. 1-3 in the parking lot of C & J’s Family Pizzeria.
Volunteers and organizers of the groups find satisfaction from being able to help others and seeing the results.
Susan Conrad, of Millville, participates in all the monthly projects, including the annual Thanksgiving Baskets and the Adopt a Family for Christmas. She said the groups help not only during the traditional giving seasons, but “they manage to keep the passion of helping long after some stop.”
“With all the hustle and bustle in (our) lives, it is a special thing when others stop their agendas and schedules to help,” she said. “I must also admit that it feels good to help others. “Now that I am home almost full time, it is a good way for me to feel that I am still helping and contributing,” she added. “And what I can give and do give is appreciated, regardless of how small it is.”
Michelle Price is already looking forward to planning and organizing the first annual Easter Dinner and Basket project.
“I had so much fun organizing the community rummage sale and ‘Boots for Kids’ with Kristen Noel and all the volunteers who helped. We rocked!” she said.
Louann Kalinski, Wake Up Stockbridge’s newest group administrator, commented that she “joined the group because of the closeness and individuality ‘us’ as a group brings to everyone we help,” she said.
When asked to join as an administrator, Kalinski noted that she agreed for two reasons. “I want to be a good influence for my daughter and show her even though we may not have everything we want, we have what we need. (And) I want her to see me provide that for others who don’t. We do this by hosting an in-house emergency need pantry,” Kalinski said.
A newer administrator for Munith/Stockbridge Pay It Forward, Julia Raupp-Jackson is a member of all the three groups, like many others. She appreciates “the immediate response and collaboration connection and making it happen without questions.”
In other instances, she said, the groups provide “as best they can,” when not all the needs can be met or may take time to achieve.
All three groups may be contacted on Facebook, but this does not stop members from reaching out to those not online. The primary contact point outside Facebook would be to email Tina Mullins at email@example.com or Heather Walling at firstname.lastname@example.org.