A Nanaimo satire site is taking on a more serious tone as Vancouver Island deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nanaimo Beacon, a website that is known for its comical stories on local politics, has created a volunteer-based program called Beacon Buddies, which connects people that are either in self-isolation, elderly or dealing with other medical complications with a nearby “buddy” who can help out with basic errands, like grocery shopping.
The free program launched on March 15 and now has more than 800 volunteers in communities across the mid and north-Island, including Nanaimo, Comox, Duncan, Campbell River, Mill Bay and Gold River. So far, they’ve been able to match 48 buddies with people needing assistance.
“What we’ve done is try to match people who need help with people who are willing to give help,” said a spokesperson with the Nanaimo Beacon who agreed to speak to CHEK News on condition of anonymity.
Individuals who register for assistance with the Beacon Buddies program will be matched with a volunteer of their gender. At the moment, the Nanaimo Beacon says they have 30 volunteer buddies for every one individual that needs help.
“If someone is in need of help, either they’re self-isolating, or they’re elderly or they have potential medical complications, we have literally hundreds of volunteers in your community ready and willing and waiting on standby to help,” the spokesperson said.
The Nanaimo Beacon wasn’t sure what type of response they would receive when they first launched the Beacon Buddies program given that they’re a satire website, but are glad to see so many people take an interest in their initiative.
“It has been an overwhelming response,” the spokesperson said. “It is clear that people on Vancouver Island are willing to help.”
While they might not be a satire news site at the moment, the Nanaimo Beacon fully plans on returning to its comical roots once the coronavirus pandemic is over.
“Once this all over we will go back to making [funny] jokes about the mayor,” the spokesperson said.
Beacon Buddies is currently available to communities the mid and north-Island. For more information, please visit www.nanaimobeacon.com/buddies