SOMERVILLE, NJ - Borough resident and small business owner Theresa Bonner is proof positive that one person can make a difference in the battle against the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
She's already found work for several people who lost their jobs in downtown Somerville as servers and bartenders in restaurants that were required to close by Gov. Phil Murphy's Executive Order 104, issued last week in an effort to "flattten the curve" and slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The order also covered other venues where people gather, including theaters arenas, casinos, bowling alleys and others.
The idea came to her while walking down Main Street last week and seeing all the hastily-written signs taped to the glass doorways of stores downtown announcing "Take Out Only" or "Closed Until Further Notice,"
It was like a punch in the gut.
"I started thinking about it. People are going to be out of work, and that worried me, not only for the individuals, but for the economy of the town," she said.
"People need to pay their bills and stay vital," she added.
That was the inspiration behind Somerville NJ Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a Facebook page that Bonner created after bouncing the idea off of a friend who knows a lot of people who work in the food service business in the downtown restaurant and bar district.
"She thought it was a great idea, so I whipped up this Facebook group and shared it with friends," Bonner said. By the next day, the site had 169 followers.
"People shared it, posted things they had heard about, data entry jobs, whatever, places that were looking to hire, delivery people, things like that," she added. "I was astounded how quickly it had grown."
Bonner tested out the site herself, posting an ad for someone who could do some yard work at her home.
An unemployed bartender responded, who Bonner said did an "amazing" job, and related her positive experience on the page, which led to more work for the bartender.
"That's exactly what I started the group for," Bonner said.
The number of followers has almost doubled to 327 followers, according to Bonner.
"Every day we're being asked to accept people into the group, it's just wonderful and has been a great experience," she said. "No one is taking advantage of it, no 'get-rich-quick' schemes or anything like that.
The guidelines for the page are very specific, according to Bonner - Somerville NJ Neighbors Helping Neighbors is for people who are recently unemployed, looking for work or are aware of appropriate job listings, according to Bonner.
"This is not a place for political discourse or to air political views, it's about what is happening in the workplace," Bonner said. This is about us pulling together as a town and helping each other, helping neighbors.
"It's the least we can do to help people who have worked so hard in our town."