One of Julie London’s favorite parts of working in her picture-framing store has been the personal interactions she has with her customers. Much like a hair salon, her store became a social hub, in which London would get to know her customers and hear about their lives.
“People would come into the frame shop and tell me about their problems,” says London. “I would try to give them advice about their problems when I could, and sometimes I would fix people up. I loved it. They always say to do what you love ... ”
So, London did just that. She started a blog, where people could write to her and ask for advice about relationships and everyday problems. Soon, her audience grew, and London started a Facebook page to allow others to chime in with advice, as well.
“Other advice columns only have one voice,” says London. “If you disagree with the writer, then that’s the only voice you get to hear. I had no idea there was such a need for this here, but it’s taken on a life of its own.”
Today, London’s advice service, which she named Dear Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother), has more than 800 “likes” on Facebook, and it’s grown into a community of contributors who are compassionate and willing to help.
“It’s like having our own personal Dear Abby column,” says one Dear Bubbie user, Judith Solomon. “I find that the people who write in are really looking for help from people who are nonjudgmental, and that’s what they get. Nobody’s ever attacking the asker. That’s its biggest success.”
People seeking advice send an email to DearBubbie@yahoo.com — London acts as the site’s moderator. She then reviews each letter before anonymously posting it to the website for the rest of her female and male contributors, whom she calls Bubbies and Hubabubs, respectively, to answer.
“We’re not doctors or lawyers,” says London. “And we make that clear. But for every question that someone asks, there are people having that exact same problem, who can talk about the way they handled it.”
Solomon often reads through the posts and finds herself learning from the problems other people are having.
“It broadens my mind to the other sides of issues,” she said. “The nice thing is that everything that comes through always seems to have a smile behind it. When you’re talking to (London), you just know that everything’s going to be all right.”
According to London, the best part about Dear Bubbie is the way it brings complete strangers together with the common goal of helping others through their problems. She says it’s taught her a lot.
“Some people have it really hard,” she says. “But they still log on to help others. Everyone’s voice is important.”
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