Founder of Yukon Helpers Network, Ashley Fewer. Since starting the Facebook group back in March of this year, more than $70,000 has been raised to help Yukoners. (Submitted)

Founder of Yukon Helpers Network, Ashley Fewer. Since starting the Facebook group back in March of this year, more than $70,000 has been raised to help Yukoners. (Submitted)

Yukon Helpers Network raises $72,000 during pandemic

The 5,000-member Facebook group and website registered as a non-profit this week

Snow-shoveling, house-hunting, flight vouchers and Christmas tree donations are just a few of the requests made and fulfilled by the Yukon Helpers Network this month.

The Facebook group, which boasts a membership of 5,000 people, sees hundreds of posts and comments every week from Yukoners requesting and receiving assistance.

“It all started when the pandemic hit in March, we recognized there was a need for people to stay in touch with one another,” said founder Ashley Fewer.

“It really snowballed into this larger community of giving back to each other, and continues growing.”

In the last nine months, the Yukon Helpers Network has raised $72,000 for individuals through a series of online fundraising campaigns. This week, they officially registered as a non-profit society.

“Basically, if you need help and you’ve exhausted all resources, you can come to us and we’ll do our best to find you the answers you might need,” Fewer said.

Sometimes that’s in the form of monetary help, but it also means directions, relationships and ideas between community members, Fewer explained.

Fewer spends upwards of 80 hours per week facilitating the Yukon Helpers Network. Up until recently, she was the only person fundraising, marketing, answering messages and updating the website. She has since added a roster of four volunteers — Kelsie Blaker, Brandon Delege, Melissa Arkwell and Carrie Jackson — to help shoulder some of that workload.

“They do so much behind the scenes. They are making sure the group is running smoothly, respectfully and remaining helpful for all of our members,” Fewer said.

Since they’ve registered as a non-profit, Fewer hopes they’ll be able to enlist some funding to create employment opportunities and expand the group’s capacity for service.

Fewer and her team have spent December working on a used-toy drive, a “reverse advent calendar” and a stockings-for-seniors initiative. She has also expanded the network to include a mentorship hub and online shop.

The hub lists carpenters, computer technicians, career counsellors and good listeners with open inboxes. Fewer said a local lawyer has also offered pro bono legal services to the network, and the list of Yukoners willing to devote their time is ever-growing.

The network’s “Yukon-made mini market” sells locally crafted jewelry, footwear, crafts and ornaments. The market encourages shopping local for Christmas gifts, and endeavours to provide up-and-coming artisans with community exposure.

Some of the network’s largest GoFundMe campaigns have raised upwards of $10,000. A campaign helping a Yukoner who was in a car accident raised $15,000 in a week, with two-thirds raised in the first 24 hours.

For another family who lost its main breadwinner to sudden tragedy, $19,000 was raised.

Yukoners seeking help through the network can either make a public post to the Facebook group, or contact Fewer directly.

“One of the most heartwarming things is when our members feel comfortable reaching out to each other, to say ‘I need help,’ and the swarm of community support is remarkable,” Fewer said.

“It helps others understand that they can be vulnerable and open in our group too, and know they’re never alone.”

Fewer was moved to launch the network at the beginning of the pandemic. It was about a year-and-a-half after a car accident, and resulting post traumatic stress disorder, necessitated time away from her job.

“In that time, I’ve been stuck at home because of my anxiety and my PTSD, but having the network has allowed me to communicate with my community and still stay in touch…. When I help somebody, it’s like therapy for me,” Fewer said.

The network has become a full-time job that Fewer called extremely rewarding.

“It’s my dream job, blossoming before my eyes, and it’s because of the community,” she said.

When Cheryle Patterson’s stepson was paralyzed from the neck down in September, the Helpers Network launched a GoFundMe and online auction for him. About $12,000 has been raised so far.

“We are trying to buy a lift to make his life more enjoyable, this will make it possible for him to do more things and get out and about,” Patterson said.

The Helpers Network took charge of the fundraising and will administer the purchase of the lift.

“They’re amazing, I’m so grateful, because it took lots of stress off the family,” Patterson said.

Lisa Grenier told the News she was provided with Thanksgiving dinner — enough to feed her family of nine — after they’d fallen on hard financial times due to a combination of COVID-19 layoffs and medical problems.

“It took me three days to reach out and ask for help, pride held me back, but I did ask (and) we were gifted an entire turkey dinner,” Grenier said.

“I reached out again, as we are still struggling, to receive a Christmas dinner hamper from Yukon Helpers Network, this will help us and I can now afford to buy each grandchild a small gift.”

Since receiving help on the network, Grenier’s mechanic husband helped a single mom repair her car at low cost to pay it forward.

“I truly love that group,” Grenier said.

Daryl Cluniesross told the News that he has helped out on the network, most recently giving away a cell phone to someone in need. When he moved apartments and started a new job, the network gave back.

“Everyone has been donating whatever they can, I’ve got pots and pans, a couch, an entertainment stand,” Cluniesross said.

“It’s really good, it’s really helpful.”

Murray Lundberg, a local senior, responded to a network post from a teacher seeking opportunity for service hours for their students. A busful of students arrived at his home on Dec. 9 to shovel snow and move firewood.

“I’m 70 and was injured 17 months ago, now trying to deal with my acreage with severe limitations,” Lundberg said.

“I don’t really even have words to describe how significant this is to me, I was in tears when the teacher said they could help me.”

Patterson told the News she believes the network has a broader impact on the Yukon’s community.

“It’s bringing out the kindness and generosity of the Yukon that traditionally was here — it hasn’t been as visible for a few years but here it is again,” she said.

Yukoners can access the Yukon Helpers Network through the Facebook group or website at www.yukonhelpersnetwork.com.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read