Love Is The Cure! How One Woman Started A Movement That’s Helped Over 100,000 People In Need
Her grassroots kindness model is catching on all over the globe - and some famous faces are helping to spread the word!
To say that the last few months have been challenging would be an understatement.
From people losing their jobs due to the coronavirus shutdowns, to protestors taking to the streets to take a stand against racial inequality, the uncertainty we face every day is enough to make anyone feel afraid.
But, as always, there is hope.
In March, Shelly Tygielski, a mindfulness teacher in Fort Lauderdale, FL, came up with a way for people in her community to take care of each other.
She called the idea "Pandemic of Love," and while her original plan was to establish a network of helpers to assist those struggling in her own community, the idea ended up spreading like wildfire.
"I posted the original video and the two links to signup forms on my social media feeds on March 14 and woke up the next morning and there were already 400 requests to get help and 500 to give help," Tygielski told CNN.
The idea was simple. People who needed help, like money for gas, groceries, etc., could fill out a form and they would be matched with someone in their community who could provide assistance. The volunteers who match the applicants never touch any money – they just make the connections.
Here's actress Debra Messing talking about the mission of Pandemic of Love...
While the interactions can be pretty straightforward, connections have often turned into lasting friendships.
For example, when New Yorker Mauricio Martinez lost his job as a Broadway performer during the pandemic, he reached out to Pandemic of Love for help. He was quickly matched with a woman from San Francisco who contacted him via text.
Broadway performer Mauricio Martinez reached out to Pandemic of Hope when he lost his job due to Covid-19. Mauricio Martinez/Facebook
"I got a text message from a lady named Simone in San Francisco, and she was willing to help me out, and 'what did I need, groceries, gasoline?' and could she send me some money?" Martinez said. "And I waited a bit because I didn't know how to respond."
After he realized it wasn't a scam, the woman sent Martinez some money and the two started building a relationship; something Martinez appreciated as much (if not more) than her generous donation.
Pandemic of Love now has over 600 volunteers in cities and countries all over the world. Shelly Tygielski Meditation + Mindfulness
"It is not just the money," Martinez said. "It is the companionship and especially now with everyone isolating, out of nowhere came this wonderful soul and we started becoming friends, exchanging pictures of our families, our dogs, and it was wonderful."
Chapters (or "micro-communities," as Tygielski calls them) of Pandemic of Love have been established everywhere from Iceland to Australia and across the United States. The organization now has over 600 volunteers with an average transaction of $145.
Pandemic of Love has been raising money to provide clean drinking water to Navajo tribes. Shelly Tygielski Meditation + Mindfulness
Celebrities like Busy Phillips and Kristen Bell have shared Tygielski's posts and have helped spread the word about her cause.
Tygielski says she hopes Pandemic of Love will be around long after the coronavirus is gone.
"On a personal level, it shows me that a person can make a difference. When you aggregate this act of kindness, you know viruses can be scary things, but the word 'viral' does not have to be negative. A lot of positive things can go viral like hope and faith and love. And love can be the cure."
Thanks to Pandemic of Love, over 132,000 matches have been made between patrons and people/families in need. Shelly Tygielski Meditation + Mindfulness