GT Community Support Network Launches to Provide Virtual Advice and Assistance
In our mission statement, we declare that “we mentor future leaders to identify and push the frontiers of human knowledge, imagination, and innovation.” Truly, throughout the College of Sciences, many innovative, creative student leaders prove that mission to be accurate. However, the core of that statement is not rooted in the individual, but in the community of Yellow Jackets providing guidance and support. And during an unprecedented pandemic, that community has been put to the test, and shown up in unexpected ways.
Following the sweeping spread of Covid-19, schedules and routines across campus, along with classrooms, workspaces, and labs around the country, were quickly upended. Necessities ranging from grocery shopping to childcare became challenging as people sought to protect themselves and others from spreading Coronavirus.
A possible solution to help with some of these challenges? A new personal forum created by a trio of associate deans: the Georgia Tech Community Support Network.
The Facebook group was started in early August “as a community resource for Georgia Tech faculty, students, and staff, many of whom are struggling right now with work-life balance and stress due to hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession,” and was created by Matt Baker, Kim Kurtis, and Beki Grinter, who serve as associate deans of faculty development in the Colleges of Sciences, Engineering, and Computing.
“We hope that this Facebook group will be a place where the GT community can come together to share ideas, pool resources, and provide employment and volunteer opportunities to colleagues and co-workers facing similar challenges,” they explain.
The idea for the group came from the three associate deans discussing how to help families who may be impacted by economic hardship or uncertainty as a result of the pandemic — along with trying to help alleviate stress and time restrictions related to childcare needs.
“Since the spring, we have discussed ways to better connect members of our community to resources that can help support one another through this uncertain and stressful time,” shares Grinter. “Frankly, I wish we had created this sooner, but the impetus for getting this going now was the increasing number of students, faculty and staff coming to campus with the restart of research and education this summer and fall, and the realization that many parents will have their children home, and in school, for another semester.”
Scrolling through the page, posts vary from offering childcare assistance, to advising on technology issues, to sharing thoughts and ideas on the start of the fall semester, to simply saying hi.
“Lew Lefton posted recently that he and his wife had tons of ripe figs on their fig trees and invited people looking for a weekend activity to come pick some” from a safe distance, shared Baker in early August. “So, my son, wife, and I drove by their place and picked three baskets of figs to snack on! We brought them a jar of homemade peach salsa in return. Oddly enough, I think that was the first time I've seen a work colleague [in person] since the pandemic began.”
The three-week old group already has more than 500 active members. Baker hopes the group can help provide necessary resources and support to people in need.
“I hope it becomes a valuable resource in the coming months as we face unprecedented situations with online schooling, quarantines, protests, illnesses, and a slumping economy,” he says. “A lot of folks are struggling to make ends meet.”
"The problem is particularly acute in the case of working parents facing school closures or limited daycare options for young children. I hope this group can help people get rapid and accurate information and resources to help them manage such crises,” he adds.
Grinter shares that moderating the group has introduced her to new paths and ideas for digital collaboration techniques. She says the posts have proven the positive, resilient spirit of Georgia Tech.
“I’ve been at Georgia Tech for over 15 years and I am lucky to know a good number of people across campus,” shares Grinter. “I’ve always known that there were a lot of great people, and what I see here is great people working together to be a great community.”
The group is open to all in the Georgia Tech community using a Georgia Tech email address. To join, visit the Facebook page, request to join the group, and fill out the brief questionnaire.