Facebook was the ideal platform for getting Betty White to host SNL, but certain occasions call for a more specialized and nuanced approach to forming connections online; we just learned of a website designed to coordinate support for families in transition and need. Lotsa Helping Hands allows users to create a private community to organize friends, family, coworkers and neighbors who are eager to help but not sure how.
A coordinator sets up a free, private, secure online community where volunteers can view, claim and track their commitments. Each community has a private message board, photo gallery, and a Well Wishes wall.
We can think of many different contexts in which Lotsa Helping Hands would be a great tool for coordinating community, including bringing home a new baby, caring for a special needs child or dealing with a family member's illness or hospitalization. There are the obvious tasks of preparing meals, cleaning and laundry, and many more that are less apparent and equally critical: coordinating transportation for appointments and school, the care of siblings, walking the family dog, watering the garden and collecting and sorting mail.
The use of this site seems like a great way to prevent redundancies and gaps while assuring volunteers that their efforts are addressing the family's needs. Anyone who has ever experienced the exhaustion of new parenthood or the frenzy of a family emergency knows that when people offer to help the only things to say are "yes" and "thank you," but conveying needs can be awkward. (We are reminded of friends who recently brought home a colicky baby and ended up with five different batches of homemade lasagna but couldn't find the time or support to take a shower or clean the cat box.) We love the idea of eliminating the guesswork and streamlining communication with technology.