NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

COVID-19 hits home: What public service looks like during a pandemic

Joshua AlbaIsae Grullon, Features Editor

Joshua Alba

Joshua Alba, 36, is a Lawrence resident, and a Raíz Organizer for Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts. Alba also attended NECC but was unable to graduate due to financial reasons. He has since focused on working specifically to help create justice in our community.” 

Alba also serves on the Lawrence School Committee for District D. During the COVID-19 pandemic Alba has used his role as a school committee member to help in the community. 

“I support the Lawrence Public Schools and leadership is disseminating information, relaying shortfalls, ensuring open democratic participation for our community,” he said via Facebook Messenger

He has been successful in communicating via social media as well as email, phone calls and text messaging. Video conferencing software like Zoom and BlueJeans have also been helpful in working from home.  

Alba’s sense of public service remains strong during this coronavirus pandemic. “I decided to help as soon as I understood thait was a serious concern after having a medical briefing at my job on our new patient in-take protocols, then being told to work from home,” he said.  He’s been sharing information about resources available across the city and state such as food, unemployment, and hygiene.  

In the effort to further help the community, Alba is part of an initiative to launch a mutual aid network called the Greater Lawrence Mutual Aid Network. The network will “help funnel information and resources to the most marginalized in our community, the undocumented, unsheltered, and others,” said Alba. More information on the Greater Lawrence Mutual Aid Network can be found by visiting their Facebook group page.  

Alba understands all too well the seriousness of COVID-19. “I am able to help remotely,” he said. “I actually need to, because I am especially vulnerable to COVID-19, as I have asthma, and this virus attacks the lungs.” 

Assistance has been well received by the residents of Lawrence however, feedback remains very limited.  

“There is the expressed demand for more services for our most vulnerable. We are concerned for safety, of course, as the city and others scale up and streamline services,” aid Alba, “… we’re working on getting hand sanitizer to the unsheltered, right now.” 

Alba urges those who can, to stay home as much as possible. He also suggests that “those who live by themselves, who practice good social distancing and hygiene, to contact the city and see how they can volunteer.” For more information on how you can help in the city, visit their website at