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Health

Bozeman Volunteers Work To Aid Those Affected By COVID-19

Aerial view of Bozeman, 2008.
Jonesey/Flickr (CC-by-2.0)
Community volunteers in Bozeman are trying to make life a little easier for their neighbors.

Health officers are saying communities need to be prepared for a potentially long-haul disruption to day-to-day life in response to COVID-19. Community volunteers in Bozeman are trying to make life a little easier for their neighbors.

Health Officer Matt Kelley with the Gallatin City-County Health Department said during times of stress and perceived crisis, people need to act with compassion.

“If you know someone affected, send them a text or an e-mail or give them a call. Ask them if they’re doing OK, and consider dropping off supplies or food, but only if you can do that without face-to-face contact," Kelley says.

Several community groups in Gallatin County are collecting donations, setting up meal deliveries and match making volunteers.

Jeffrey Strock and Yimei Shao recently organized Bozeman Mutual Aid, an online form to match people who are elderly, immunocompromised or already sick with volunteers who can help deliver groceries or other supplies. Volunteers will drop off items outside of residences, in an effort to reduce exposure.

Strock says they’ve had 140 volunteers sign up and 10 requests for aid since Saturday. He says some of the requests have been for diapers and baby wipes, but most are financial.

“Most of the requests have been financial, and we don’t have a community fund set up quite yet. So we’re not quite able to help that, and it really hurts to scroll through all of the requests that we can’t help with. But there’s been a few with what we had in mind originally, which like, ‘Hey, can we get supplies,” Strock says.

Strock says once they have a community fund set up, they’ll be able to provide some financial support to people who are concerned about lost income if they stay home.

He says people can send an email to bozeman.mutual.aid@gmail.com with "Financial Support" as the subject line.

Strock says they also hope to use the community fund to reimburse volunteers for transportation costs when picking up and delivering supplies. Strock and Shao are also considering ways to work with artists who aren’t able to perform right now to live stream entertainment.

“The scope is a lot grander than what I initially signed up for, but I’m really happy to try to facilitate this and get it a little more organized and hopefully help a lot more people,” Strock says.

Strock says they’re in the process of reaching out to other community networks to identify and contact those who may be in need.

Elsewhere the Gallatin Valley Food Bank has transitioned to drive-through service. Healthy volunteers can sign up to prepare emergency food boxes on HRDC and Greater Gallatin United Way’s websites.