In the midst of adapting to a changing daily life in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, community members are rallying to support one another and make sure that those who are the most vulnerable are surrounded by a network of care to meet their daily needs. Giovanni DeGarimore, a third-generation Central Coast native who lives in Morro Bay and owns Giovanni’s Fish Market in Morro Bay, started his outreach with a simple message on his personal Facebook account offering to feed anyone in need.
“No parent should worry about how their child will eat,” DeGarimore said. “Innately as humans we want to help people and it dawned on me that the biggest problem was that people may not know how to do that.”
So, he created Adopt a Neighbor Facebook Pages for most cities and towns in San Luis Obispo County as a platform for people in need of anything from groceries to a prescription picked up to connect with those who were able to help. Within a week’s time, the groups have grown to include thousands of members.
“The easiest thing we can do in the face of this is to start by looking after our neighbors,” he said. “At times like this people will come together and this uses the best of social media which was intended for networking.”
The pages have grown from meeting daily requests for needs such as groceries and toilet paper by willing neighbors in the community to a venue for individuals to offer services and goods, share information, and offer messages of hope and support when many people are isolated from their regular support networks.
While DeGarimore continues to moderate the majority of the pages, others in the community have reached out to help. The pages, he said, have grown organically with people willing to help out in any way they can.
“I am here and no one will go hungry in this town,” he said. “This is what I want Adopt a Neighbor to be about,” DeGarimore said. “I want it to grow beyond the boundaries of San Luis Obispo County and continue to be a way to unite us even after the coronavirus is gone. There is no limit this once we get the word out and see how we can make a difference in the world.”