About three weeks ago I was sitting on the couch with my wife watching the news. It was the start of the virus, and the newscaster was talking about how tough COVID-19 would be for seniors and those with underlying health conditions. I immediately thought, “ What will they do about groceries? How will they be able to get medicine and basic needs?” I had just been to the grocery store and already the shelves were looking barren. It was so chaotic and no place for an elderly person. I decided to see if I could offer some help.
I posted an offer to go run errands for any seniors in need in a local Facebook group. I figured I could be a foot soldier for a few people. The idea immediately caught on and others started chiming in that they wanted to help too.
I decided to create a new Facebook group where people who wanted to help and people who needed help could post. I originally hoped that I might get ten or so other people to join. As of today we have over 8,000 members.
In just three weeks we’ve been able to help two senior living facilities on a regular basis, and over 200 individuals. Health care professionals, civic leaders and nonprofits have all reached out to us. There have been some sad stories, where a whole staff abandoned the seniors in their care, a mother had cancer and could not get food for her kids, or a caregiver could not leave a patient with dementia alone in order to go get supplies.
Out of the 8000 people who have joined the group, 600 are active volunteers. We even have an org chart now! We started with our focus being solely on care for Seniors, but are now considering opening that up to other populations as well. We are working on having a component of our group that helps with resumes, job and interview skills, things like that. We’re also partnering with my church, Gateway, for a prayer ministry.
We are beginning to realize that we don’t just meet physical needs, we deliver hope. And that is not just for the seniors we are bringing food to. For volunteers this has been empowering and gives them a way to be able to do something to fight back against the virus.
What’s amazing is that all of this started just three weeks ago with a handful of caring people and one senior, but has grown bigger than we could have ever imagined! Getting involved and doing something has given us a collective hope that we’re going to make it through this crisis.