If you live in the Highgate area, you might have heard of the Facebook group “Helping Others.” It’s doing just as it’s name would suggest.
Group founder Crystal Hemingway says it’s to help people from all walks of life, including those struggling with addiction, to get everyday necessities.
“People that are starting out that have nothing, or getting out of a shelter and they have the clothes on their back and a few things in a bag. They don’t have anything,” said Hemingway.
The group was inspired by her boyfriend, Billy, who started a separate page, “Opioid Warrior,” to help those battling addiction.
“He said, ‘You know, you need more resources in the area for people in need.’ So I said, ‘OK, I’ll do this,'”said Hemingway.
She adds it was fairly easy to get the word out about her new online venture.
“I just made the group and started inviting my friends that are on my Facebook, and then their friends, and their friends. Now we’re over 4,000 members,” said Hemingway.
Since starting the group, she says her children have benefited, too.
“My six year-old wants to bring baby items to school, one of her little friends in class, her mom is having a baby. It’s teaching them to give,” said Hemingway.
A huge undertaking, Hemingway knew she couldn’t always manage the group by herself. Michelle Cline joined the group, and started helping right away.
“So that night I came up and got a bunch of stuff off from her and I end up going through it and posting it,” said Cline.
Hemingway does more than just giving people everyday items. She often finds herself helping people get medical help, too.
While her phone often rings with Facebook messages about facilitating swaps and drop-offs, Hemingway says those struggling from addiction reach out to her. She works with them to help them get a bed, but more importantly, getting them clean.
“What matters is when I get you this help, and you get clean and sober, what you do with your life after that, right?,” said Hemingway to a caller in need.
Now that the group has gotten so big, Hemingway is thinking about the next step: turning the group into a non-profit.
“For people who are on probation who need community service or people who are on state assistance who need to get their food stamps, they have to have community service hours,” said Hemingway.
She hopes anyone who’s been helped by the group can find a way to give back, too.
“It’s not about what you have, it’s about what you give, and that’s a big thing,” said Hemingway.