Pandemic Partners Redding: FB Group Gives and Receives Help

Join me in welcoming Sean McMasters of Redding, one of the founders of  the Facebook group “Pandemic Partners – Redding”.

Here’s the group description: “Welcome to Pandemic Partners-Redding. We want to be able to respond to the emerging needs of our neighbors during this challenging time. It’s simple – if you need help, ask. If you can help, respond out of the goodness of your heart. This can include running errands, picking up groceries, getting help with technology to stay connected to loved ones, etc. In a time where fear can be overwhelming, we choose kindness, generosity, and love for our neighbors. We believe that we belong to each other and that we will get through this best as we help one another. IMPORTANT – if you are having a medical emergency, please call 911.

Disclaimer: By engaging in any of the above, you are an independent person and responsible for your own health and safety. Please continue to practice handwashing, sanitizing, and distancing measures recommended the CDC. And please, in all interactions, treat people with respect, honesty, and kindness. *This page was launched as an affiliate page of Pandemic Partners-Bend in partnership with Vineyard City Church Redding for the sake of the common good. We have a long tradition of seeking to be the good news for our community, and we just want to make it easier for folks to connect.

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Hi, Sean. Welcome to ANC. Our paths crossed a few years ago when we both lived in the Garden Tract, and we both helped with Living Hope’s breakfasts. You’re a pretty active guy, but I see that you have created a new Facebook group –  “Pandemic Partner” –  especially related to the COVID-19 reality.

Before we get to that, can you tell a little about yourself as a means of introduction? (Sean, here you can tell as much as you’re comfortable, but you can also tell about your family, if you want.)

Hey Doni. We were Garden Tract neighbors for a bit! I moved to Redding when I was 15 and graduated from Enterprise in 1993 (go Hornets!). I’ve been married for 19 years to my amazing and beautiful wife who teaches 2nd grade in Happy Valley. We have three kids: 15, 13, and 11, and one dog named Indie.

I had a chance to study music at Cal Poly SLO, have a M.A. in theology from Simpson and am finishing another M.A. in counseling psychology from Simpson as well. I am the pastor of Vineyard City Church, which is a church I have been a part of for 20 years. I also do therapy at Family Dynamics working with men who wrestle with substance abuse. My family and I still cook breakfast at Living Hope every Wednesday.

Thanks! Obviously, you have a heart for helping people, so I wasn’t surprised to see the group you created especially for these scary times. Before we talk about the Facebook group, how are you and your family holding up in light of the COVID-19 situation? How has the COVID-19 stay-home order affected the McMasters?

To be honest, like most people we’re stressed. I don’t think we are especially afraid of COVID-19. We realize that things like this are and have been a part of human history for some time; unfortunate as that is. We are stressed because of all the small changes happening in our world: kids at home, empty shelves at the grocery store can be scary, non-stop news, aging parents, and not to mention the very real financial cost for us and others. We use part of our home as an Airbnb and we assume we’ll lose that entire income for months. That’s hard. However, we’re trying to practice self-care. Eating well. Resting when we can. Attempting to get good sleep. Not drinking too much Scotch and making sure we’re still exercising. There is much we can’t control so practicing Radical Acceptance (look it up) and practicing good preventative care (diet, sleep, exercise, etc) is important.

Thank you for sharing, Sean. I know a lot of readers can relate to what you are going through. So, about the group, Pandemic Partners-Redding. Can you tell about the group, and what inspired you to create it? (Sean, maybe tell about the timeline of it: when it started, and then why … did something happen, or was it just a thought out of the blue?)

Like many of us my family and I are wrestling with what are the real issues associated with COVID-19. However, I don’t want to stop there. I almost always ask: How can I help? Where are the opportunities to demonstrate God’s love in this moment? Sometimes these answers come easily and sometimes they take time to reveal themselves. In terms of Pandemic Partners-Redding I was checking out the NPR news page and one of the stories was about a Facebook Group called “Pandemic Partners-Bend” and I thought that’s brilliant. I thought this is great and we can do this. One of my professors in seminary said, “Steal the best with pride!” and that’s what I did with Pandemic Partners-Redding. The Bend group has been extremely successful. They really tapped into something important within their community. People need help and people want to help. Connect the dots and beautiful can happen.

What was your hope for the group when you created it?

The idea and my hope for the group  is to create a community who help each other. Some people post a need and then people within the group help out with that person’s request. I’m a huge fan of community, “We the People,” and allowing people to voice their needs and giving others the opportunity to help. We all have needs, some are physical, but we all have, in my opinion, a need for meaning. Helping someone will give you more joy than constantly trying to get your own needs met. That said, some people aren’t in the position to help themselves so, say for instance our elderly population during this time. My hope is that a group like this can meet the real needs of people who need it and give people hope and meaning through helping others. My mother is 72 and she has an auto-immune disease. She’s at risk and so are many elderly people. How can we network these people who need to isolate resources they need? Many people would love to get groceries for our aging friends.

What’s been the response so far? Any surprises?

The response has been positive so far. At first new people were joining the group like crazy, which was great, but at this point it seems as if the group has slowed down, which has been surprising to me. I think there are several issues we are bumping into: People are overloaded in terms of information, people are more stressed than normal (small stressors add up quickly), and I think people are embarrassed to voice their needs publicly. I have received several requests for help in private messages and I’ve encouraged people to post on the group. One person told me that it would be too embarrassing, which I understand. Unfortunately there is a stigma to being a person who needs things. The group also serves as a hub for pointing people toward certain agencies and groups who are able to help. My hope is that people are accessing these services as a result of our group and that people do start posting needs.

Is Pandemic Partners affiliated with any religious group?

No, but it was started by one! Vineyard City Church administrates the group and brings guidance to it, but the group is not religious in any way. The Bend group was also started by a church, but their group is not religious either. There is much we can say about the church historically, much of it bad, but there is a great deal of good within that history as well. One of the good parts is that churches have a long history in terms of social justice and helping the poor. This is something we are inspired to do because Jesus was constantly reaching out to those on the fringes, the foreigners, the poor, and the disenfranchised. I’m thankful to be a part of that tradition within the church and to continue that tradition here in Redding where so many are in need.

Pandemic Partners is brand new. How do you picture it going forward as time goes on?

I would hope it continues to be a platform where people can voice their needs and then have their needs met. We can help out our fellow brother or sister in very practical and simple ways. One of the things I often say is: If we all do a little, no one has to do too much. Maybe Pandemic Partners goes beyond this current situation we have with COVID-19 and allows us greater insight into how we can help others in practical ways. There were a great many people in need before COVID-19 and I don’t think the virus will make things financially better. Redding has a long history of having a decent sized population in poverty. Maybe a group like this could be one part of a larger story in which we see people taken out of poverty and given what they need to take a step in the right direction.

Are there any particular needs that are especially dire in our community right now, that you’d like people to know about?

So far, most people have been asking for housing assistance and food items. That said, I think the biggest need we have right now is bravery. Bravery to share our needs in spite of the feelings of embarrassment. There is no shame in being helped. I went to Cal Poly, my wife graduated top in her class and we had to live with my mom for two years because we were in financial need and because of her help we were able to get back on our feet. I think most people are willing to help because they themselves have been helped by others. By sharing your needs with others you bring meaning into their life and when you get the help you need you can remember those who helped you by helping someone else. Nobody gets through life without a little help.

What else would you like us to know about Pandemic Partners?

Please pass on the word that this resource is available for everyone within Redding. It is a simple idea with profound possibilities: If you need help, ask. If you can help, help. We have guidelines in place to make sure people stay safe as they help. Join up and get the help you need or help others who have needs.

Thank you, Sean. Stay safe!

You too Doni! We appreciate all that you do for our city.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    Good idea: Might be a way that Trump voters can apologize to their community for inflicting this pathetic excuse for a man in charge of this country right now.

    Don’t bother to tell me– “Don’t make this political.” The first thing the Orange Cockwomble did was make the coronavirus political. He continues to do so every day and also has found a way to make it a racist clarion call. His daily tirades and lies continue with his dishonest campaigning in the guise of a Pandemic Press Conference televised around the country. If your particular governor doesn’t kowtow to the guy, he will see that your state is at the bottom of the list to get help.

    Please face the fact that HELP is only going to come from community members, local and state government as the Executive Branch is worthless. They didn’t step up in January, and have been only along for the ride at this point.

    And Yes, I have personally found several ways to help out individual community members from my computer. So, I encourage you to do the same.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      “…He [Trump]… found a way to make it a racist clarion call.”
      President Trump acknowledging that this virus came from China, and immediately initiated a ban of travel from China has no doubt saved thousands of American lives…while he was being proactive in making that decision…it was those on the left like Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, Sanders that called him ‘hysterical’ and ‘xenophobic’. Thank goodness it wasn’t a President Biden in office right now…who knows where we would be right now. What is wrong with holding China responsible for this pandemic? It was the deception and secrecy of a Communist government that is responsible for me being out of a job right now. This is not a Trumpvirus as the left likes to call it…it is a China virus, that we should be reminded of every day.
      Yes, Anita…I think it is despicable the way the left has politicized this crisis, for what purpose? To damage the president any way they can. Blathering on and on about the president is not helping anyone, Anita, as much as you think it is…I watch the press conferences, and I see a lot of good facts and information coming out of it from the experts that the president is relying on.
      Again…it is despicable

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Doug — First of all, nobody knows for sure where COVID-19 originated. It first became an epidemic in Wuhan, China, but there are thousands of Chinese from that area working on infrastructure projects in Northern Italy, and Italian epidemiologists have speculated that it may have originated there and been carried back to China by workers. That’s because they’ve discovered there was a sizable uptick of elderly Italians dying of a mysterious form of pneumonia prior to the Chinese outbreak.

        Second, the disease was already widely knowns as the COVID-19 pandemic when Commander Shinsplints tried (snd failed) to re-brand it as “The Chinese Virus.” Tell us what good does it does, in the midst of a global pandemic, to make it even a tiny bit less clear what the White House is talking about? It’s “COVID-19,” assholes. It’s everywhere, and there is zero utility in trying to re-brand it “The Chinese Virus.”

        We had far more lead time than Asia and Europe to respond, yet the growth curve here is steeper than on those continents. We are at the back of the pack in getting systematic testing. Hospital workers (including my daughter) have no PPE. We wasted 1.5 months in denial, our response let by a tool who thought it was only a PR issue and whose qualifications are: (1) Trump family member, and (2) former slum-lord. You mischaracterize what Biden, Pelosi, Schumer, and Sanders had to say, but who really gives a shit? None of them are POTUS. As for politicizing this issue, see your “Biden et al.” BS above. Also see Trump’s daily episodes of blaming the MSM and the Democrats for not giving him the A+ he thinks he deserves. As he himself has put it, he accepts zero responsibility for any missteps. He even tried to blame Obama, just to put a point on who has gone further in the absurd politicizing and blame-casting.

        Go ahead and continue to polish Trump’s applies and shine his boots. It’s a bad look, but it’s clear by now that you’re deeply enamored and can’t help yourself.

    • I feel kind of bummed that this post about a Facebook page designed to help people in the middle of this pandemic turned into a political post right out of the gate.

      • Avatar Margaret Wilson says:

        I appreciate Sean’s heart and and support the mission of Pandemic Partners-Redding! Let us as a community love and help one another- this is the most important thing we can do right now. Thank you, Doni, for an inspiring interview.

        • That’s where I was coming from, Margaret. There are so many valid reasons for everyone to be angry and upset right now, but stories like these offer hope, and show positive things being done in our darkest hours to help one another.

          Thanks, Margaret.

    • Doni Chamberlain Doni Chamberlain says:

      Anita, you say, “Please face the fact that HELP is only going to come from community members …” which is exactly what Sean McMasters and his group are trying to do.

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I have two thoughts.

    1. Sheltering in place is only going to become more critical in the coming weeks as this explodes in California— and very likely locally. We should all be extremely cautious about running errands for ourselves or others, even if the motivation is altruistic. We don’t need hoards of carriers out there making the rounds. It’s better to have 10 full-time Instacart people making grocery deliveries than 50 part-time do-gooders. That’s just a harsh fact of minimizing interactions. Right now, this needs to stop being about what makes us feel good about ourselves. (Regarding the mystery of the drop-off in volunteers after the initial rush: I suggest it’s people realizing that it’s irresponsible for them to risk becoming carriers.)

    But that said…

    2. Helping out is going to be necessary, because we’re on our own and our President is making the situation worse. His administration’s response has been chaotic, confusing, and counter-productive. The CDC’s advice page on COVID-19 is being muzzled by that administration—not a word on sheltering in place or what constitutes essential business. We can help by finding out what people need and ensuring they get it *while minimizing the number of human interactions involved.*

    Lastly, I agree with Anita. Failing to hold our incompetent President accountable for his ongoing failures is to enable and consent to his incompetencies, errors, and failures into the future.

  3. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    In our more hot spot than Shasta County down here in Arizona I belong to the El Mirage Neighborhood Watch Group. While it is mostly about lost pets and videos of roving night time no gooders it also acts as a help line to those who need supplies. And it is not just the elderly, there are several single moms with children at home that can’t go to the store. And the teacher caravan just drove through the neighborhood honking and waving at the students and calling them by name.
    Just standing on a corner in Arizona shuffling chairs.

  4. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    My neighborhood has an email and phone tree, we’ve already ID who’ll go for needed supplies, etc. Plus, several of us have informally adopted a street person and her partner. We’ll get through this neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s nice to reflect what anyone did in the Bible for the downtrodden, but unless you really step in to the fray and buy food/supplies, it’s all just words. There’s 3 words that we sometimes get mixed up: sympathy, empathy and apathy, look them up and choose.

  5. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    Excellent article/interview.

    Terri and I flew to New Zealand on March 2nd, and had a flight booked to return to SFO from Auckland on March 25th after a superb 3+ weeks in that wonderful country. When we left, the U.S. had 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and New Zealand only one. As of the most recent update, NZ has 368 and the U.S. is #1 in the world with 104,399, up 16,901 (19.31%) in the past 24 hours.

    Through pure serendipity, our Air New Zealand return flight was not cancelled, and departed 15 minutes late due to extra disinfecting by ANZ’s cleaning crew, 3 hours and 59 minutes prior to the total nation-wide lockdown which will last a minimum of 4 weeks. Although we could have coped with being in a NZ hotel room for 4 weeks and probably longer, we are grateful to be in our own Redding home with all the needed supplies during our 14 day self-quarantine. A fine friend has shopped for fresh milk, veggies, and other necessities, others have dropped off homemade items and wine, and many others have generously offered to assist as needed. We are thankful for many things, but most of all for such great friends.

    I have just learned that we qualify and are likely to receive a $2,400 check from the U.S. government

    (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/coronavirus-stimulus-check-calculator/?utm_campaign=wp_read_these_comments&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_comments)

    which though we are certainly not wealthy, we do not need. We will be distributing the entire amount to those who DO need those funds, and hope that others who find themselves equally fortunate will do the same. If ever there were a time to care for our fellow humans, it is now.

    • Wow, I’m glad you two made it home safely! And what a wonderful gift, to distribute your money to those who need it most right now. You’re a stellar human, Richard.

  6. Avatar Jist Cuz says:

    Political post right out the gate on Anews? Say it isn’t so LMAO +!+

  7. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    Our thanks go out to many who want to get out there and help in the many small ways they can. It is nothing new during this pandemic and is something most people are all to willing to get involved with and support.
    However.
    Given all the feel good stories like this fab page Sean has started, the fact remains we are in this situation because the POTUS has been derelict in responsibility to provide accurate, meaningful and truthful information to Americans.
    We can argue about how POTUS is handling this situation but it is clear he is not helping and his orders to disband the HSS are a significant contribution to our current predicament.

    COVID19 and the many positive actions people are taking cannot be discussed without acknowledging the failure of potus to handle the situation honestly.

    Politics cannot be avoided, as POTUS is so willing to engage with his daily re-election campaign appearances.