Difference Makers: Helping Hands Where They're Needed Most

A Bay Area non-profit is connecting volunteers with vulnerable residents who need help shopping for essential items during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tina You volunteers with Helping Hands Community in San Francisco, spending a few days a week grocery shopping for senior citizens.

"It brings me so much joy to be able to do that for them and also see how thankful they are," You said.

Helping Hands Community formed in the Bay Area back in March in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The tech platform allows people to request deliveries for food items, prescription medications or other errands like walking a pet.

"I know they seem like such small things like grabbing a loaf of bread," You told KCBS Radio. "But some folks have diabetes or other health issues, so they're not able to leave. They're extremely at risk because of their age. Most people I've come into contact with are in their 70s and 80s."

Helping Hands Community CEO Jeff Miller said their biggest challenge has been discovering who needs help, especially for those who don’t have internet access.

"(Some) are not on Facebook and Twitter," Miller said. "They rely on a landline. In order to reach those folks, we partner with organizations who already have that relationship."

Anyone can make a request by visiting Helping Hands Community's website. A volunteer will approve the request and coordinate a time and payment with the requester.

You’s deliveries aren't just about dropping off fresh food. They’re about the small interactions someone stuck at home may need during this time of uncertainty.

"I think it's nice for them to see someone," You said. "If you're indoors 24/7, just to see a friendly masked face for a couple of minutes is really rewarding."

Helping Hands Community is making a difference across the country with volunteers helping others in nearly 20 states.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the COVID-19 crisis and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Difference Maker, email us here.