During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, New York City received a lot of well deserved negative press for the cities appalling handling of COVID-19, especially within state run nursing homes, that claimed the lives of many seniors because of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s willful incompetence and negligence.
However, there’s another New York City that many within the mainstream media have ignored, and which few are aware. A city where thousands of young good Samaritans came together during the height of the pandemic to help those elderly forced to stay indoors because of the deadly virus, who were desperately in need of groceries, medicine, and other daily essentials.
The grassroots volunteer effort began with Brooklyn resident Lily Pollack, along with freelance reporter Melanie Bavaria, teaming up and using the internet to enlist able-bodied Brooklynites to run errands within the borough.
Within a few weeks the duo had signed up over 116 young volunteers, tasked with covering the nearly 70 miles of the borough, handling everything from buying groceries and medical supplies to conversing with the isolated pensioners and other immune-compromised individuals.
Soon, other volunteer groups began springing up all over New York City and the 4 outer boroughs.
"*" indicates required fields
One of those nonprofit groups called Invisible Hands, began as a Facebook post, asking for young New Yorkers to step up and help those seniors afraid to venture out, as COVID-19 began to spread throughout New York City.
We are currently located in the larger NY area and parts of NJ.— Invisible Hands (@InvHandsDeliver) March 23, 2020
Interested in volunteering? Sign up on our website: https://t.co/4shXTGgGvk.
In need of a delivery for you or a loved one? Fill out the form on our website: https://t.co/JdSI8KnrTq.
Within just a few short months over 10,000 volunteers signed up to deliver just over $1,000,000 in food, medicine and other vital necessities throughout New York City, Long Island, Westchester, and the other outer boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx.
Working in tandem with food pantries, mutual aid groups, and religious institutions to deliver free food to people in need, groups like Invisible Hands, along with other volunteer groups became a lifeline for many seniors.
Brooklyn resident Maggie Connolly is another selfless volunteer who saw the plight of her elderly neighbors within her community and decided to get involved by putting up flyers offering to buy groceries and medicine.
The flyer which simply read; “To elderly neighbors and those with compromised health, If you need help or don’t feel safe going to busy stores right now, your neighbors are here to help!” Connolly then provided her email address and offered to make store runs.
When asked how she came up with the idea she said, “I was sitting at home, I think it was last Thursday night. It was right after that first rush that everybody went to the grocery store and so when I went there, I noticed that all the bread was gone; the meat, toilet paper, all these necessities.”
Adding; “I live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, it has a very large elderly community here and I was just really worried that those people, those neighbors weren’t getting what they needed,” she continued. “In Brooklyn, everyone has to walk to the grocery store and carry their stuff home so I was thinking too, can these people carry two bags worth of stuff home.”
Connolly said her neighbor posted a photo of the flyer, which then got reposted.
“I had so many people reach out, both in the neighborhood to volunteer, but then also all over the world sending me pictures of their signs that they’re making, which I think is so huge,” she said.
Connolly added that she has been working with two people who set up the website Invisiblehandsdeliver.com for all boroughs in New York and even New Jersey.
New York can indeed be a tough city to live in, however it’s also a place where neighbors look out for neighbors.