Nearly 9,000 People Turn to HERO for Help With Food, Rent and Utilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic


In a year of hurt, people across the Savannah area have needed help like never before. Many of them have never had to ask for assistance and don’t know where to begin. But nearly 9,000 found the help they needed with HeroHelpMe. com.

Officially called the Health Effective Resource Organizations, or HERO, database, the online health and social services network offers Savannah Chatham County residents a one-stop powerhouse of resources, agencies and programs across 57 categories with the aim of closing the referral loop and empowering those living in low-income neighborhoods to be their own health heroes with access to a one-stop, all-inclusive resource.

“During a year where unemployment climbed, income was squeezed and housing was untenable for some, the HERO database helped thousands find services that they need,” said Ella Williamson, Director St. Joseph’s/ Candler African American Health Information and Resource Center, who led the development of the site. “Because good health is not the absence of disease, it’s having a good job, a safe place to live and access to quality services and the HERO website delivers that for the most vulnerable in our community.”

“It’s a tremendous jewel in our community,” said Lillian Grant-Baptiste, chair of Healthy Savannah’s Health and Faith Coalition. “It is a place where folks can access information. We know knowledge is power but, more importantly, applied knowledge is power. This helps folks learn and have knowledge about the various resources and programs that perhaps they may have never known about. It’s a tremendous jewel, a tremendous tool to effect change in our community.” was launched in January 2020 by the St. Joseph’s/ Candler African-American Health Information & Resource Center. It is partially funded by the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah through grant funding awarded by the Centers for Disease Control’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program, whose purpose is to eliminate disparities in health outcomes based on race and income in Savannah and Chatham County.

At the time it had just 600 resources, but that number had grown to more than 1,500 by November.

“It is now more critical than ever that residents know how to locate needed resources, since data is showing that COVID-19 is having a deadlier impact on African-Americans due to disparities in their health. The latest data concerning the novel coronavirus is shedding a spotlight on issues that the center has been fighting to improve for more than twenty years.” Williamson said. “The HERO database was created with you in mind.”

Between January and November, the site had 8,618 visits with 6,384 searches. The top five searches were for food assistance, rent and utility assistance, coronavirus help, housing and childcare. can be accessed at any time and allows users to search both by agency name and by service provided so residents can easily find resources for childcare, substance abuse, food access and clinics, to name a few. In addition to detailed service provider listings, the HERO Database focuses on health literacy by using complementary imagery to illustrate the content and aid in the site’s navigation.

“We are each other’s hero,” said Grant-Baptiste. “HERO helps us access the various programs and services so folks can lift themselves up. Sometimes all people need is a hand, just a lift up, and who knows, someone may need to lift us up at some point, so we need that.”

For more information about the HERO Database, please contact Ella Williamson at 912- 447-6605 or visit The St. Joseph’s/Candler African American Information & Resource Center is located at 1910 Abercorn St., Savannah, GA, 31401.

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