As novel coronavirus cases continue to climb in Tarrant County, one Southlake resident realized he could not sit idly by.

Al Zito, a former Southlake City Council member, decided to create a forum for people to help each other. These took the shape of private Facebook groups for local communities. The first group was called “Southlake People Helping People.” Now there is also “Grapevine People Helping People,” “Colleyville People Helping People” and “Flower Mound People Helping People.” More groups are on the way, he said.

“I decided to move forward with my tiny corner of the world or circle of influence and started to put together a network of people that can express when they have need and whatever that need is, and then the corresponding network of people of volunteers and people that are able to offer assistance,” Zito said.

The Southlake group was created Saturday, March 14, and within 24 hours the group had grown to more than 800 members, he said. As of 5 p.m. March 18, the Southlake group now has more than 1,400 members.

Discussion in the group includes updates on where to find grocery items and making members aware of people in the community needing assistance with food or other necessities.

“We're establishing a foundation that I see is desperately needed on how we are going to be able to help each other moving forward, because there's certain people that just don't need to be out of their house or out in their car driving around,” Zito said. “This thing is just super contagious and it's got such a bad mortality rate for people of older age and immune or underlying health issues that it’s scary.”

Shortly after the Southlake group was created, Zito spun this version off into other groups in Grapevine, Colleyville and Flower Mound to further allow neighbors to help neighbors. This came after he realized it was easier for people to help others if they did not have to travel great distances, Zito said.

There is no agenda other than to help people, he said.

“We're trying to put resources together and the understanding of what resources that are out there together with the needs of people,” Zito said.

These human connections have helped a local facility provide toilet paper to clients, and have also helped a mother under quarantine get ingredients for her daughter’s birthday, Zito said. Needs were expressed and met while still maintaining responsible social distancing through these virtual forums, he said.

“I think we're going to find that social media is going to become a very critical part of all of our lives and also the tie that binds us in what's going to keep us together,” he said. “We’ve got challenging times ahead. And the way we’re going to get through it is together.”