Published: 3/28/2021 7:32:16 PM
PLAINFIELD — An ad-hoc group of volunteers, with an assist from the town, has been providing a helping hand to people in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Plainfield Mutual Support Network was established in the early days of the pandemic. Since then, it has provided assistance that’s ranged from deliveries of wood to connecting people with food to gas cards.
“We really are there to respond to the emergency,” said Pleun Bouricius, who helped to found the network.
Bouricius said that the network consists of about six highly active members, 10-12 people who are involved to a lesser extent and around 45 people who are available to volunteer, some of which have been called on and some of which have not.
The group also has a page on the town website, where people can volunteer or ask for assistance. Bouricius said that the town allowed the group space on its website “because we’re for the public.”
“The town is great,” said Lina Bernstein, a dispatcher for the Support Network. “Plainfield is a very nice, generous and responsive town.”
As dispatcher, Bernstein collects the names of those seeking help and those seeking to volunteer.
“Then I put them together,” she said.
Bernstein said that the network has “wonderful volunteers.” She noted that one volunteer gets free food from a source in the Hilltowns every week, which Bernstein then distributes to families in need; while another volunteer delivers food from the food bank in Goshen to someone who doesn’t drive.
As for requests for assistance, Bouricius said that, “We found that there was sort of a steady trickle of need for the stuff we do.”
She also said that all of the aid the group renders is confidential.
One prominent element of the aid the network offers is a debit card at the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington that people in Plainfield and surrounding towns can use to purchase $50 of groceries and household supplies a week. This same card can also receive donations for itself.
The group is also preparing to donate money to the Plainfield Public Library to buy supplies and plexiglass screens once it reopens to the public.
All funds the network has are from community donations.
One area the group expected to have people reach out about is technical support. However, Bouricius said that the group, which has volunteers ready to help, has received no requests for this over the course of the pandemic.
Those who want to volunteer with the Support Network or receive aid from it can leave a message at 413-634-1030 or they can fill out the appropriate form at https://bit.ly/3ruONrY.
Bouricius said that the network will remain active through the pandemic. After it concludes, she said it will either reinvent itself or go dormant until another crisis occurs.
Bera Dunau can be reached at email@example.com.