By: Dan Ratner, Senior Director, Member Services, FMI
When there’s some type of crisis, most of us will check our social networks to view updates and see if anyone we know has been affected. When you scroll through your latest news feeds, you’ll likely come across a meme that includes this famous quote from Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers
Soon after COVID-19 arrived as the scariest of things in the news, FMI introduced a new online community for members in their time of need to find helpers and the helpers to find those in need.
With the help of SAP, the FMI Jam COVID-19 Online Community was built and opened in late April to provide FMI members a place to go to connect with others on issues and find providers of personal protective equipment (PPE) that was in short supply at the time.
The community was built with four distinct “neighborhoods” (sub-communities) that focus on the major challenges that emerged from the response to the pandemic.
The Workforce Group focuses on the needs of store and company employees, their training in new practices and protocols, and their safety and well-being.
The Operations Group provides a place to share strategies and tactics that have been employed to manage the logistics of social distancing, changing occupancy restrictions and requirements, added signage, sanitization, etc.
The Supply Chain Group aims to allow members to discuss the fluctuating volumes of products flowing through distributors to the stores and find answers to questions related to meeting the demands of local shoppers.
The Worker Safety Group helps members learn more about protecting their staff and associates through the ever-changing circumstances at the state and local levels of the industry.
FMI members can join and connect with each other through these interactive forums in a private and safe online environment.
In addition to the groups mentioned above, members have access to a growing list of providers of PPE to help meet the constant demand for items like face masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, thermometers, gloves, and testing solutions. The PPE Procurement area of the community has garnered much attention and is an invaluable resource to members as the pandemic lingers.
Once you’ve entered the community, visit one of the many group discussions, the PPE Procurement area, view the COVID-19 Tracker, the Twitter real time feed, or just view the community’s live feed to see what’s happening.
It’s a neighborhood of helpers where FMI members can feel safe to visit and connect with others in a socially distant world.