Health crisis inspires region-wide resource hub at NEKstrong.com

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — With the help of local service providers, non-profits, and chambers, the NEK Collaborative has officially launched NEKstrong.com, an online tool to connect individuals, businesses, and communities with everything they need to thrive in the NEK.

The region already has comprehensive resources in place for people living and working in the Northeast Kingdom.

This tool serves as a portal to connect users to those resources.

The site features three primary resource categories: individuals & families, businesses, and communities.

Within each category are several subsections including food, housing, healthcare, business coaching, and community grants.

The site also includes information relevant to current regional issues, like COVID-19 recovery and region-wide internet access.

The crisis has highlighted the myriad challenges NEK community members face while trying to meet their basic needs, grow their businesses, and care for their neighbors.

“We heard from so many people that they didn’t even know certain resources existed,” said NEK Collaborative Director, Katherine Sims. “How would they if they didn’t know where to look for them?”

Wrong numbers, long wait times, scattered information, and clunky technical support, in the wake of the crisis inspired community members to compile resource information into a living document which quickly became the source of crisis response information in the region.

As it grew in size and scope, contributors worried it was too unwieldy to be useful.

That’s when organizers decided to launch NEKstrong.com.

The site is easy to navigate, which was a priority in designing it.

“We especially don’t want this tool to be one more headache for people trying to get what they need,” said site builder, Carey Murphy.

Each subsection of the site includes a comprehensive list of relevant organizations and contact information.

Users can search the entire site from the homepage and if they still can’t find what they need, the site reminds them they can call 2-1-1 and speak to a real live resource specialist in Vermont.

“This endeavor has been a very satisfying effort, as it has brought so many organizations together to help the region we love so much,” said Darcie McCann, Executive Director of the NEK Chamber. “We, truly, are all in this together and will all do whatever we can to assist the residents and businesses of the Kingdom.”

With plans to diligently review and update the site, NEKstrong.com is expected to give social service providers a neutral and efficient tool for sharing area information.

But the group guiding the site’s development recognizes it will always be a work in progress.

To that end, they’re inviting community members to submit additions and edits to the site.

“We want this tool to make it easier to live, work, and thrive in the Northeast Kingdom. If you have great ideas on how to improve the site, please contact us,” Sims added.

Check out the site and submit your feedback (in the footer) at www.NEKstrong.com.

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