All week, I have experienced flashbacks. The posts on social media, email exchanges, and Zoom meetings have been tinged with a tenor of panic, of uncertainty, and most of all, a tremor of fear. These are all emotions I vividly recall from June of 2008.
During that time, I served as a small business development center consultant at the University of Northern Iowa. Although I was still a student, I was among a small team assembled in less than a day to triage local businesses impacted by historic flooding, then ravaged by an EF5 tornado.
We pitched a tent, gave out water and looked for words to assist. For two weeks, I cut class to sit across folding chairs from people who had lost everything—first to water, then to wind. The panic in the voices of people who were losing all they had worked for was something I will never forget.
And I’m hearing it again. Today.
Here is what I know: we will get through this. Many of us are transitioning to a new normal of online meetings, social distancing and remote work. Our work as community champions and leaders has always been difficult. In times like this, we are challenged even more.
The good news?
All week I have been hearing from you how you are stepping up and leading your local communities. KCSourceLink is holding weekly Zoom meetings with resource partners, Colmena66 is hosting videos on Facebook Live, IASourceLink has launched a business survey, ChiBizHub and Sparkyard have launched business recovery webpages. It is our job for the next few months to empower this network, amplify your impact and for us to collectively champion one another.
To this end, here is how we are going to support you:
COVID-19 Support and Recovery Webinar
In place of our planned webinar next week for our affiliate gathering attendees, we are retooling that virtual gathering to be a conversation around COVID-19, so that you have a safe space to learn and discover how your peers are facing COVID-19 head-on. This webinar will be open to all of our affiliates, partners, and friends. Please hold Wednesday, March 25, 2 to 4 p.m.central via https://umsystem.zoom.us/j/9987807601.
Community Resources and Guidance
We are pulling together the best we can find in research, outreach strategies and shared information/resources that you will be able to use with your own affiliated network. This includes communications language, survey questions for owners/resource partners, and much more. You can find these collected resources in real-time here.
SourceLink Support and Technologies
Our SourceLink staff are all working remotely. No service disruptions have been recorded, and our help desk is being monitored by both email firstname.lastname@example.org and hotline at 844-804-8775. Many of you are leveraging the SourceLink surveying engine, owner case management via SourceLink Pro, and website portals to communicate COVID-19 information to serve as clearinghouses for critical information access points. We are here to help you gear up, just reach out.
Thank you all for your continued dedication. We are cheering you on from here in Kansas City, and look forward to seeing how each of you guide, inspire and lead your local communities.
Rob Williams, on behalf of the SourceLink team