House candidate and her campaign volunteers offering community assistance during pandemic
Jun 11, 2020 01:20PM
By Carl Fauver
These drive-through and walk-up face mask donations were coordinated by the Vietnamese business community. (Courtesy Lynette Wendel)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
In a perfect world, Taylorsville Planning Commission member Lynette Wendel would be hosting fundraisers and canvasing door-to-door in her bid for the District 39 House of Representatives seat. But, instead, the veteran community activist is coordinating a small army to try to combat coronavirus.
“The first day or two, after everything was shut down in mid-March, I just felt disheveled, like many people I suppose,” Wendel said. “Then, the first thing I could do, was make five crock pots of chili for people I knew were homebound. But I got to thinking about it, through my Utah House campaign I had list of volunteers, a website and access to voter lists. I decided we needed to try to reach out to people to see what assistance they could use.”
A team of about 40 campaign volunteers began making random phone calls to Taylorsville residents, asking whether they needed assistance or if they had something they could offer to others in need.
“The most pleasant surprise has been there are a lot more people offering to help others than people needing assistance,” Wendel added.
Among those receiving calls was Taylorsville resident Lynette Lehman, 55.
“I normally don’t answer a [call from a phone] number I don’t recognize, but luckily I did,” Lehman said. “I live with my 81-year-old mother and my daughter. We donated a bunch of food — black beans, peanut butter, soup, chili — along with two packages of adult diapers. I just left it all outside and one of Lynette’s volunteers came to pick it up. I was really impressed with what they are doing.”
Wendel’s band of volunteers also gathered safety materials for the Unified Police Department Taylorsville Precinct.
“We were able to provide police with face masks and gallons of hand sanitizer,” she said.
“Lynette’s group was awesome, and we are very grateful to them,” Precinct Chief Tracy Wyant said. “It’s been obvious during this outbreak, no police department — not New York, not Los Angeles, not any of them — was prepared with enough PPE (personal protective equipment). But thanks to lots of volunteers, we believe we have what we need.”
Wyant said none of his Taylorsville personnel has tested positive for the coronavirus. As of early May, only one officer was positive throughout the entire Unified Police Department.
Wendel and her volunteers have also joined forces with the Taylorsville Vietnamese community to make and distribute thousands of face masks. Lynette’s primary contact in that effort is Vietnamese refugee and Taylorsville Cultural Diversity Committee member Lan Ngu.
“Lynette and I are both very socially active, so combining forces was effective,” Ngu said. “I have never sewn in my life, but I can connect with the right people. We had a group of about 30 [members of the Vietnamese community] sewing around the clock. My sister and sister-in-law were a part of it. They made about 7,000 masks initially.”
Another group of volunteers offered assistance to the hundreds of students displaced when Westbrook Elementary School closed its doors, along with all Granite School District Schools.
“We had a team of volunteers go to Westbrook to pick up learning packets to deliver to kids who did not have access to the internet,” Wendel said. “Early on, it was estimated up to 20% of students had not logged in to study online since the pandemic began. We tried to help those students.”
Anyone who wants to become involved in offering or accepting pandemic assistance should visit votelynette.com. On the front page of the website, click “COVID-19 Resources.” Under that you will find two links: “Resources for those in need” and “Resources for those who can help.”