Monday, January 17, 2022

This new community map lays out resources in Historic Triangle

Williamsburg House of Mercy using a drive-thru service to give away food donations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg House of Mercy)
Williamsburg House of Mercy using a drive-thru service to give away food donations. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the Williamsburg House of Mercy)

As many in the local community find themselves without a steady income, a new resource has been formed to help people find the service they need.

The Williamsburg Health Foundation, in partnership with other local organizations, has launched a new community resource map that lets residents discover what services are near them. 

The Greater Williamsburg Basic Needs Map is comprised of various sections, such as food pick up sites and free WiFi, and shows where each organization or resource is located. When a user clicks on the icons or sections, they’re then shown a description of the resource and a link to more information.

“We decided to make a map for resources because a lot of people’s needs are based on their location,” said Allison Brody, director of community engagement for the Williamsburg Health Organization. “Because if you’re a person in Lightfoot, you’re going to want to know what’s close to you.”

For certain resources, such as legal advocate for eviction, the closest is outside of the map limits. So instead, the map lists the resource with an icon and directs the user to a different area for information.

Another challenge was finding a way to balance the amount of information while still making sure it was easy to understand. 

“If I’m a person who needs help, I just need to know when and where and how,” she said. “So I feel really strongly about keeping it simple.”

That’s why the map is built to be interactive and accessible to anyone. But for those without access to home internet, Brody said the foundation has also dispersed the information through flyers and pamphlets that are handed out during events such as food distribution.

Brody said the map launched about two weeks ago when various local organizations, from food banks to faith communities, decided there needed to be one central location for information about resources. 

She added that the Williamsburg Health Foundation always works to facilitate collaboration with local organizations so it seemed natural to provide the resource to the community.

“The main thing is that it’s exciting to be a part of a community where people are both in theory and in practice collaborating so that we can get better and more equitable resources out there,” she said.

Brody said another important aspect she wants people to know is that the organizations aren’t creating any religious or organizational barriers. Everyone is welcome to their services without any restrictions or profits from the participating organizations.

The map is continuously updated as more organizations and services reach out, Brody said, in order to provide as comprehensive of a resource as possible.

Brody said the map has had thousands of clicks since it launched which she hopes indicates it is providing a real service to people in the community.

“That means there’s some real world use,” she said. “Because truly what all of these partners want is for people to be able to find the help they need and so many people find themselves needing help for the first time in their lives.”

To access the resource, visit the Greater Williamsburg Basic Needs Map online

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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