Peoria East Bluff News Facebook Page Founder Now Has Help

PEORIA – When Mary Reising learned that the East Bluff News The Facebook page was in danger of closing, her first thought was “oh, no”.

Reising had just read that page admin Willa Lucas had decided that the 24/7 tasks required to keep the page popular had grown too heavy. Lucas was looking for other people to help him manage the page, and it took Reising’s volunteer about two minutes.

“I am now a moderator. I’ve been doing this for about a month, ”said Reising, one of four people who volunteered to keep tabs on the page.

Growing up in East Bluff, Reising, who now lives near Sheridan Village, joined the page because she loves to know what’s going on in her old neighborhood.

“I’ve seen this page do some of the nicest things. It amazes me how much everyone helps each other. Just before I volunteered, a young mom said, “Hey, I have a bag full of clothes, from infant to 2T, if anyone wants any I’ll put them on my porch.” No less than two minutes later, this bag was taken.

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This kind of charity is something Reising remembers from her own childhood.

“We shared uniforms. We went to Saint-Bernard. A family with older daughters passed the uniforms to us, “Reising said.” It’s like that, and I love that Willa works so hard to try to come back this way, and that there are people who live there who really I want him to come back that way. The kindness of some people amazes me.

Sharing clothes is just one thing made easy by East Bluff News, which Lucas launched in the fall of 2015.

“It was around the same time that some of us launched a print newsletter that we sent out to interested people. But I knew a lot of people in the community, especially a lot of tenants who needed to know the information, weren’t getting it. That’s when we launched the Facebook page, ”Lucas said.

The idea was to make community workers aware of the programs that could be of use to them. But the page, which now has more than 4,300 subscribers, has grown into much more. It is now a public forum where people share information, offer and ask for help, and discuss community issues. City leaders and journalists are keeping an eye on the page. Third District City Councilor Tim Riggenbach finds the page very useful.

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“For better or worse, people are more direct and honest on Facebook than they would email a city councilor or speak face to face,” he said. “It can be a mixed blessing, sure, but I really think it gives people an extra voice.”

The page alerted Riggenbach of situations where he could help.

“Maybe someone’s having trouble with their heat or something. Often times people call for help on this page. Once I am informed, I can let them know what municipal services we have and inform them of the application of the code, ”said Riggenbach.

On a recent weekday, a wide range of topics were discussed. There were several messages about the dogs – one had been lost and another had been found. On another article, commentators debated the conviction in a murder trial. And yet another post featured a recipe for Chicken with Dill and Lemon, a dish made with ingredients from the East Bluff Food Pantry, which Lucas manages.

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The pantry and the Facebook page were efforts that Lucas, a longtime East Bluff resident, undertook a few years after retiring from the Peoria Housing Authority.

“It happened at the right time because I was bored as everyone came out,” she said. “I had always told my kids to find their passion and find a way to make a living from it, so I did what I told my kids to do.”

Lucas runs the page with a firm hand. People must join in for comment, a process that requires answers to three questions and a wait for approval. Once people become members, they are required to follow or suffer the consequences of the 10 written rules of the page. For example, “members who have a habit of humiliating, criticizing or mocking other members or otherwise encouraging a hostile environment will be removed and blocked”.

“I closed it once for six days when it got out of hand,” Lucas said with a chuckle. “People weren’t behaving. They got very accusing and demanding, they came and went, repeating the same thing over and over again, people got on the bandwagon to attack different things and ideas and no matter how hard I tried to play. to the peacemaker this was not working. So I used the ultimate tool and checked in the page. After about six days I gave a little rant and explained why I did it and what the expectations, and it’s been great after that, for the most part, because people now know I’m going to do it.

Lucas was the sole administrator and moderator from the start, and it wasn’t easy for her to cede the page to others. She walked away for a while, then came back to help make sure the decision-making was consistent. Now anytime someone is concerned about a comment, or if a post is appropriate, they have a virtual consultation. Things are going pretty well now, Lucas said.

“There can always be improvements. They got their feet wet, they know what to do, they know when they are over their heads, they know when to have a group chat so that we can come to some sort of consensus, ”she said.

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Now that Lucas has some help, Facebook isn’t the first thing she thinks of when she wakes up and the last thing she sees before bed.

“I sleep better,” Lucas said. “The pantry itself takes a long time, and then adding the Facebook to it, it was just overwhelming. … with everything, you can only stretch so thin. The thing I have definitely I wasn’t going to let go was the pantry, it’s my baby. But the East Bluff News is right behind it, and I don’t know if I could ever totally let go. Because I care. I want it to be useful, i want it to help with problems, i want it to get the message across, that, yes, we have trouble on East Bluff, but there is also a lot of good stuff happening in East Bluff, and people need to hear that as much, if not more, than they need to be alerted to a problem or potential problem.

Leslie Renken can be reached at (309) 370-5087 or [email protected] Follow her on

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