Making Sense of COVID-19
Palm Beach County Nonprofits Deploying Crowdsourcing Research Tool to Gain Valuable Insight and Take Action
West Palm Beach, Fla. - Palm Beach County nonprofit organizations have joined forces to deploy SenseMaker®, an online crowdsourcing research tool to track the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of citizens. Palm Health Foundation’s Healthier Together communities, BeWellPBC, Pathways 2 Prosperity and the EJS Project are collecting personal stories from county residents about how the outbreak and community interventions are affecting residents and taking immediate action to help individuals who share a story of personal crisis.
Launched in mid-March, residents have shared over 500 stories about how COVID-19 has impacted their lives using SenseMaker®, an online storytelling collection tool with robust analytics. The online tool takes less than ten minutes to complete and invites residents to share their stories and “make sense” of them within their individual and community contexts.
“SenseMaker® is giving us a window into both the personal and community-wide impact of COVID-19 in a unique way that reveals patterns in real-time about the effectiveness of response efforts,” said Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation. “Collecting qualitative data has been used by big business to provide valuable consumer insight and now we are applying it to gain valuable insight into the most traumatic experience our county has ever faced in recent history.”
Recognizing the challenge for some to participate online, the foundation’s community partners are deploying youth leaders, ministers and volunteers to reach out to residents who do not have access to a computer or internet connection to ensure their voices are heard. The EJS Project in Delray Beach created a toolkit for collecting stories and data that is being utilized by organizations such as Healthier Neighbors in northern West Palm Beach and Riviera Beach, Healthier Boynton Beach and Pathways 2 Prosperity to cover broad areas of the county.
While the organizations are assessing the data at a community and county level for current and future planning purposes, they have taken immediate action to help individuals in crisis by establishing a rapid response network. The Volunteer Nurse Corps, a program of the School of Nursing at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Community Partners of South Florida are contacting people who have shared stories of hunger, mental health crises, COVID-19 concerns and other emergency situations to offer resources and support. A recent story that prompted immediate response and continuing follow-up began with, “I ran out of food yesterday after going five days on one meal.”
The outpouring of need inspired Palm Health Foundation to establish a new Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fund that will help residents who are struggling to pay their rent, access food, receive medical treatment and other urgent needs. The foundation has committed up to $200,000 to provide a dollar-for-dollar match for every contribution made to the new fund. Grassroots nonprofits in the foundation’s six Healthier Together communities will distribute the funds to aid in efforts to help residents recover, rebuild and plan for the future.
“The non-profit organizations and networks partnering to collect resident stories have first-hand knowledge of where our community’s greatest disparities exist and those who are most at risk for the negative health, economic and environmental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said McNamara. “The stories we are gathering are resulting in real-time feedback loops and support efforts to address individual health inequities now and will guide us to greater health equity county-wide in the future.”
About Palm Health Foundation
Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County’s community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $83 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit palmhealthfoundation.org or call (561) 833-6333.