By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
Several locals are working together on www.oxfordstrongcommunity.org, a website that finds, vets and lists support outlets formed in the wake of the Nov. 30 shooting.
Starting life as a Google Doc made in early December, site operators Chelsea Pfeiffer and Andrea Nienstedt sought out information about companies and funds for helping out.
“At first it was a lot of scouring,” Nienstedt said. “There were certain things that we knew from the beginning like the Oxford Bank website, [and] you just come across stuff because it is a small community … Within a couple of days and for sure after we connected with Matt [Pfeiffer] and he shared things out with his network, then people started to find us.”
Listings are now recommended to the site by emailing the website at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out a form on the website itself, which asks for basic details and contact information. With information in hand, site staff do their best to verify the details by reaching out or visiting in-person.
“Obviously there’s a limit to how much we can vet stuff,” Nienstedt said. “I can’t follow these people’s books to make sure that’s where the money is actually going, but at a certain point you’re doing it on faith. But at least [you are] helping people find information and options that are trustworthy to the best of our knowledge, because that was a concern we had right away.”
The site is part of a larger network of people finding, organizing and providing help for the Oxford community. Lake Orion business owner Matt Pfeiffer has connected the site with several local businesses and volunteers help with the site alongside Nienstedt, Chelsea Pfeiffer, Allie Schwerin and Mandy Schwerin.
“This is a labor of love and community for everybody involved,” Nienstedt said. “We work full time jobs; Allie and Chelsea both have toddlers. We’re not doing this because we get something out of it, because at this point it is a second full time job.”
Nienstedt is not entirely sure how long the site will remain up, only knowing that it will be there for as long as needed and will update it as the situation changes.
“We’re here for the long haul,” she said. “There’s an immediate crisis and so much going on right now, but for the community, the healing that it takes to move forward and find whatever your new normal is, this is something that is going to take months, weeks [and] years … We’re here to support the community in a healing journey, and that is a long term process.”
By Dean Vaglia