Bringing Oakland County together to beat COVID-19.

By mobilizing technology, community organizing, and volunteerism, COVID Response Network of Oakland County connects people in need with friends who can help.

Who We Are

COVID Response Network is a network of leaders from local community organizations, churches, and other agencies in central Oakland County who are working collaboratively to support and connect volunteers and resources with individuals and families experiencing hardships during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Our Leadership

Dustin McClellan

founder and ceo, Pontiac community foundation

Dustin McClellan is the Founder and CEO of the Pontiac Community Foundation (PCF).  Dustin’s deep roots and extensive network within Pontiac and Oakland County make him an indispensable leader who can make the right connections to help foster collaboration during difficult circumstances.

Dr. Jennifer Lucarelli

Associate Professor of health sciences, oakland university

Dr. Jennifer Lucarelli teaches a variety of health courses at Oakland University. An avid researcher and community organizer, she chairs Healthy Pontiac and acts as a board member of Sheriff PAL. Jennifer has extensive experience navigating community partnerships as well as a public health background that allows her to give direction to the entire COVID Response Network.

Chris Powers

leadership consultant and strategist

An Oakland University alumnus, Chris has a deep interest in developing new initiatives to grow and scale. With over a decade in the business and startup world, Chris has advised dozens of organizations as they develop their initial plans to be successful. His current activity outside COVID Response Network involve working to aid organizations working on climate change.

Cam Underdown

minister & social entrepreneur, abide ministries

Cam has more than a decade launching new ministries, churches, and non-profits. A Pontiac resident and OU alumnus, Cam is well connected in local faith communities and community development organizations around Oakland County. Additionally, he has a background in web development, which he used to pioneer the technology powering COVID Response Network.

How It Works

COVID Response Network of Oakland County functions based on a simple concept of partnership to maximize offerings to those who are most in need. Historically, these kind of collaborative partnerships have been difficult to implement, but COVID Response Network is different. Here’s why:

Single Intake Form for Everyone

No matter if you are looking for help, desiring to volunteer, or register your organization and its crisis-related resources, there is one website where we direct ALL participants. This makes all communication simple, easy, and effective as all action in a community is driven toward a single access point.

A Custom Community Database

Because all users enter information in one place, COVID Response Network has developed a powerful relational database that links all resources, needs, and volunteers together seamlessly. Pair that with a dedicated team of volunteer developers creating custom software to best leverage the data, and you have a technology tool that has helped us move mountains in a highly collaborative way.

People-Focused Approach to Service

Within COVID Response Network, all partners understand it is not about who gets the credit. Instead, our common values focus entirely on the quality of service that community members received from our partner organizations, case managers, and fellow citizens. We regularly ask for feedback to understand how we can serve the people in our community better, and we respond to that feedback.

Our Accomplishments

Since our official establishment in March 2020, our coalition has achieved the following:

  1. We created a single database to consolidate, manage, and cross reference all community resources, network partners, individual volunteers, and people requesting help.
  2. We trained and empowered over 100 volunteers to act as case managers over each of the 1500+ households who requested help, giving each household a dedicated person to contact them, coordinate resources, and offer support to see how they were managing during throughout the crisis.
  3. We developed a “suggested” volunteers module that harnesses artificial intelligence to “match” the 10 best volunteers with each request for help, giving case managers a simple, efficient way to find people resources to serve the one-time or ongoing needs of their assigned households. In addition, we automated volunteer notifications to streamline and scale community connection between volunteers and people in need.
  4. We established a collaborative food distribution system among over a dozen of partner organizations, that is packing and delivering over 70,000 meals per week right to each doorstep of those who are requesting it. In addition, we created a an entire digital emergency warehouse management system that allowed us to transform a 250,000 square foot university student center at Oakland University into a safe-distance food distribution warehouse, saving huge amounts of time and money in finding and outfitting a warehouse. Over 300 volunteers actively participate in this effort, with room to scale up.
  5. We have welcomed over 80 partner organizations into our collaborative effort, engaging them with weekly calls, dedicated training on our custom technology systems, and gained visibility through multiple media features.

Our Story

  • March 12, 2020

    Cam Underdown begins initial development of mycovidresponse.org as a way to try to engage various networks of volunteers in a safe, coordinated manner.

  • March 13, 2020

    Jen Lucarelli and Dustin McClellan start discussion on emergency food protocol in response to lockdown orders.

  • March 14, 2020

    Cam Underdown releases initial version of website via his social media channels. Chris Powers calls him to discuss what this website could mean to the community.

  • March 15, 2020

    Over 20 international students and 10 local citizens begin writing resource posts and translating initial version of website. 

  • March 16, 2020

    First 100 volunteers sign up, and first 10 initial needs are met. OU William Beaumont Students pulled out of their rotations jump in full force to help establish the COVID Response Network movement, adding over 100 more volunteers to the ranks.

  • March 17, 2020

    Jen Lucarelli stumbles upon mycovidresponse.org, and believes it is the missing link to her and Dustin's community coalition action for emergency food resources. Jen contacts Cam, and a partnership is formed.

  • March 20, 2020

    First new partners begin jumping on board to the site. Vision for case management system established to ensure everyone in need gets a dedicated specialist to help their household navigate needs in the pandemic.

  • March 31, 2020

    United Way awards more than $300,000 to collaborative effort between Oakland University, Pontiac Community Foundation, and Lighthouse of Michigan to support the COVID Response Network collaborative effort. Over 300 households in the system receiving support.

  • April 3, 2020

    Media coverage begins in earnest. Large scale Saturday deliveries with over 40 volunteers begin taking shape, becoming a weekly tradition for dozens of volunteers to build consistency of service to households in need.

  • April 10, 2020

    Over 50 volunteer case managers are trained, looking over 500 households in the database. Over 40,000 meals are being delivered each week. Customization to database begins with expanded development team. 

  • May 1, 2020

    After 7 weeks, over 1000 households and 800 volunteers are added to the database, as well as over 100 community leaders and 65 organizations. We are routinely delivering 70,000 meals per week on average.

  • May 15, 2020

    We begin showing other communities how we have turned a collaborative effort of of over 80 organizations, a major university, 1000 volunteers, and custom technology into a food distribution and case management operation, hoping to share it with communities beyond our own.

Media Features

Fox 2 runs 60 second feature on COVID Response Network discussing the $300,000 collaborative grant the network received.
Lighthouse, Pontiac Community Foundation awarded $300,000 for meal distribution
How hundreds of medical students are staying useful during COVID-19
COVID Response: ‘Saving Lives’: Volunteers, aid organizations band together to meet needs throughout Oakland County
When it comes to emergency food, many people can't afford to stay home, stay safe
Move Out Director Becky Lee interviews three individuals from My COVID Response.