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Other communities, such as Mr. Durkin‘s, are intended to be long-term.

Skilled nurses tend to Mr. Durkin’s medical needs, but his online community of almost 50 people work to keep everything else running smoothly, such as walking the dog every day and cooking meals, said Ms. Crawford, who administers the site with her adult daughter.

The website eases the discomfort of people wanting to help but not knowing how, and of families needing help but not knowing how to ask, she explained. “It just puts the need up there and lets people check and say what they can do.”

“We are learning the new normal,” she said. “The reaching out of other people and their kindness and joy has kept us going… . We are very grateful,” she said.

I mentioned to Mrs. Gibson that it was nice to see the Internet used to break barriers and connect those in need, and she agreed with me.

“So much on the Internet, to me, is a lot of fluff,” she said. “But this is an incredible application. I don’t know any other way you could organize” things, especially with people across the country.

“I think every family could use this site at one point or another, whether it’s for a month or a year,” she added. “It widens the circle.”

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at