South Florida-Based Mutual Aid Org Spreads Love to Millions Across the Globe

Three years after the start of the COVID-19 crisis, South Florida-based org Pandemic of Love has turned into a global movement, helping millions around the world.

NBC Universal, Inc.

During the height of the pandemic, a South Florida woman went on social media to connect people needing help to those who could help. She called it "‘Pandemic of Love."

Fast forward nearly three years later, NBC 6 checked in with her and how the group turned into a global movement.

“We’ll match you up with a specific family, and you can feel like you can spread love and not fear,” Shelly Tygielski said back in 2020.

At the height of the pandemic when unemployment was at historic levels, long lines filled food distribution sites. Tygielski, a meditation teacher from South Florida, saw there was a need for basic essentials. So she went on social media armed with a simple spreadsheet and started linking people who needed help with those who could help.

One by one, Tygielski would help connect people. Back in 2020, she was celebrating 23,000 matches.

“Now, we’re in over 20 countries and we have over 300 chapters and 4,000 volunteers all across the globe,” she said.

The grassroots movement, which calls itself a non-profit disruptor and amplifier, said they have made more than 3.5 million matches and crossed $100 million of direct transactions. The group has been expanding with micro-community chapters and is run by volunteers. Pandemic of Love has even teamed up with other nonprofits, received support from celebrities, and made an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show.

Pandemic of Love helps people from California to southwest Florida, to those right in our own backyard. Although the pandemic looks different than it did three years ago, the need for essentials might be even greater now.

“Car payments, car repairs, medical care, funeral expenses, groceries, essentials for the home, avoidance of eviction,” Tygielski said.

One instance involved a single mother of two in Baltimore spotted sleeping in her car. Pandemic of Love helped the family secure a hotel for a month until volunteers could find the family a place.

“I will tell you that so many people are hurting even more since the pandemic started. They haven’t recovered. They haven’t recovered financially, emotionally,” Tygielski said.

Looking back, Tygielski didn't think this effort would take off beyond South Florida.

"I did not think that this endeavor would take me to the places. It’s taken me at this point, I honestly just started this mutual aid organization to help our local South Florida community members,” she said.

Tygielski said Pandemic of Love doesn’t start or end with her and hopes it continues to help people and build communities across the globe.

Contact Us