Facebook groups connect residents in times of isolation

Apr 2, 2020

Amidst social distancing measures due to the spread of coronavirus, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester Facebook groups are a place for social connectedness.

Usually a place where users post pictures of their kids, the scenery and local happenings, town-themed or Tri-Town groups have become a spot for people to remind one another that time still exists, show ways they are staying active and share messages of hope. 

“It’s a nice form of entertainment for people who can’t go outside” such as senior citizens, said Old Rochester Regional School District committee member Joe Pires. Pires, along with Kelly and Walter Morgado, run the “Buzz Feed” account that moderates the “Tri-Town Buzz” group.

The nearly 4,200 member group has seen an outpouring of posts and shares that offer humor, encouragement and support, as have other local groups like “Mattapoisett Life” and “Rochester, MA.”

A hub where people can quickly disseminate calls for action, Tri-Town Buzz has seen an influx of posts asking for help to sew medical masks to donate to hospitals that are in need. While some posts don’t gain as much traction, these open calls have made a lasting impact in the area.

Among her many other posts of support, Mattapoisett Life co-moderator Veronica Brockwell offers daily reminders to group members to remember what day it is by posting a picture of a calendar each day, crossing out dates as they pass.

“To be able to make them [members] feel better, that’s rewarding,” said Brockwell. 

The owner of Cedar Rock Farms in Mattapoisett, Brockwell runs the group with her brother Scott, or “SJ” Vanderment. The group started in 2016 as a spinoff of the “Mattapoisett, MA” page and she stepped up and took ownership of it about a year ago.

Running the group of over 2,800 members has taken up more of her time lately. What was once an hour a day commitment to moderating has nearly become a full-time job this past week, with Brockwell giving as much as five hours a day to the task. Although it’s time-intensive, she said that she’s very grateful for the opportunity to help the community. 

All three moderators have experience that helps them in their roles. Now the owner of Pioneer Basement, Pires previously worked in marketing for 10 years. Chuck Vieira, a co-moderator for Rochester, MA, owns Ensemble Events and also freelances in podcast and video production. 

Vieira, who enlists moderation help from his mother Maureen Kelley Vieira, started the group as  a place to “show the magic of Rochester.”

While he’s lost more time out of his day to monitor the page, he said that the group has taken a positive turn in the light of the virus and that it’s “really nice to see people bring levity to the situation.”

A recent humorous post featured Rochester resident and “It’s All About the Animals” pet shelter owner Pam Robinson showing off homemade earrings that looked like rolls of toilet paper. When asked about it, Chuck said that it’s one of his all-time favorite posts in the group.

Chuck is happy that his group can now be a resource for its nearly 4,000 members.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to run this page,” said Vieira. “Never in a million years would I expect to have such a positive impact.”