New Online Support Group Offers Help, Solace In Time Of Crisis
Facebook is intrinsically its own support group, albeit without donuts and coffee. Users routinely share (maybe too much) every aspect of their lives, and their friends respond in kind, with support, suggestions, challenge, or argument.
Katie Young of Coal Valley — a married, homeschooling mom who’s already very busy juggling her nine kids — recently saw the need for another group within Facebook, so she formed the QCA Love Thy Neighbor Coronavirus Support Group, to help others navigate these treacherous, uncharted waters in a surreal sea.
Young, who’s homeschooled all her children for 13 years, is a 2000 Augustana alum – whose husband, Neil Young, works in IT for John Deere (and no, he is not musical in the least). The new support group started (with her close friends as moderators) on March 16, and has nearly 600 members as of March 24.
Katie got the idea scrolling through Facebook during this time of quarantine, amazed at the acts of kindness being offered.
“I was getting a little emotional reading all these posts about people wanting to help in this crisis that we’re in. And love they neighbor, love they neighbor, love thy neighbor kept coming up,” she said of the Gospel verse from Matthew 22. “So I realized there might be some people out there who are not seeing these same posts and these same resources.”
“I was reading all these posts from people wanting to help. I’m very lucky and blessed to have a very positive following, faith-filled family and friends on Facebook. When you hear the Holy Spirit say, that’s not just open to you, but share this with your community, I said yes…Obviously, it was a need.”
In the online group (open to anyone, homeschooling or not), everyone is supporting each other with ideas on how to cope in this time of crisis, including fun, educational videos, webinars and other online resources.
“We want it to be a safe place to share our thoughts and worries but also help provide love and support during this uncertain time,” the Facebook page says. “It is a place for information, prayer, ideas, questions you may have, etc. We hope to keep it a place of positivity and reliability.”
With schools closed, and kids home, most parents are new to homeschooling.
“I was there once; all my homeschooling friends, they were there once,” Katie said. “I don’t have all the right answers…It’s everyone together, able to help each other with questions we’re struggling with, not just about education, but going outside, what restaurants offer take-out.”
“So many people are sharing their gifts and talents,” she said. “It’s been such a blessing for us.”
With self-imposed isolation, all parents of school-age kids now have to be a homeschooler, Katie said. “Life in our country is complete crazy; everyone’s scared. If you say you’re not scared, you’re lying.”
“My heart goes out to these people. Your life has stopped,” she said. “There are people who can’t go to work, their lives have been complexly flipped upside down…It’s a crazy time in our lives for that to be happening.”
The online group is a true community and form of prayer, the exuberant, humble mom said.
“You don’t have to touch someone to pray for them, to be in the same room, to offer advice, support,” Katie said. “You say, this is what I’m dealing with, and I’m wondering the same thing. There is such a gift, carrying a similar cross, figuring out the best thing for each other.”
“I’m a human person who screws up, trying to ponder and pray, why is God allowing this?” she said. “Through suffering and life, God can bring about good. What is the good you can bring from this? There’s lots of good from people loving and helping each other. That brings me to tears seeing this.
“I don’t even know what next week’s hardships are going to be, but we can help each other. I have confidence in that,” Katie said, noting the group is totally democratic and no one imposes their ideas or solutions on anyone else
While she has long known the joys of spending lots of time with her family, a benefit of the current crisis is that it creates more bonding time for all.
“We’re so busy in our lives, just run, running from one activity to the next,” Katie said. “With everything shut down, we’re in lockdown in our own house, it’s forced homeschooling, forced time together, and we work alongside each other. I think that bonding is huge. We lose that when we’re so busy.”
“We’re all sitting down for meals together; that’s pretty rare,” she said of her husband and kids, who range in age from 3 to 18. “To have all 11 of us sitting down for a meal is fantastic. It’s quieter in the evenings. The kids are being more creative, playing more games together. It’s been so wonderful to have them home.”
“Part of homeschooling, we talk and learn from everything that happens in life.”
“Another huge blessing I can see, we are all too busy, but now we’re in our homes, and no one has the ‘I’m too busy’ excuse,” Katie said. “I can see families growing closer together and have seen that in homeschooling. I can see God bringing families together through this, building bonds and friendships. That’s huge.”