Four 20-something New Yorkers have amassed an army of volunteers to deliver food and medicine to the most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.
Invisible Hands makes free deliveries for the most at-risk during COVID-19 lockdown
Just two weeks ago, the lives of four twenty-something New Yorkers – Simone Policano, Healy Chait, Mimi Aboubaker and Liam Elkind – were very different. However, as COVID-19 began to spread rapidly, the friends, who met through mutual acquaintances, were all struck by the selfless health care workers risking their lives to help their local communities. “We decided if they can do that, then we can deliver some groceries,” Simone told Vogue. A week later, they launched Invisible Hands, an initiative that serves elderly citizens and other high-risk people who are completely confined to their homes.
The least at-risk volunteering to help the most at-risk
Invisible Hands is a group of engaged volunteers from communities at the least risk for severe COVID-19 reactions working to bring groceries and supplies to those in high-risk demographics. The group are focused most prominently on the elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised, but are available to help anyone in need.
They call themselves “invisible hands” because, unfortunately, given what is known about COVID-19 they want to minimise as much direct contact in their deliveries as possible.
But they’ve even got that covered: you can talk on the phone with your volunteer and you can tell each other a little about yourselves! In this incredibly isolating time Invisible Hands say they are happy to provide their isolated customers a human connection.
The group, which is based in New York and New Jersey, fields orders through its website, then a volunteer safely shops and delivers groceries and supplies to homes of those in need. After one week, Invisible Hands had amassed 5,000 volunteers and inspired similar organisations around the world.
On the group website they explain their motives
“Hey there! We’re Simone, Liam, and Healy — healthy 20-somethings in NYC who, like all of us in the New York community, are devastated by what’s transpiring with COVID-19. We’ve created Invisible Hands to help support and protect the New Yorkers for whom this novel coronavirus is most threatening.
These are chaotic times that require all hands on deck. Every day over the last week has brought major, scary challenges across the board. Now more than ever, people across our medical, political, and economic leadership are being stretched thin – an incredible amount of work needs to be done and much of it is falling on mayors, governors, and doctors across the country. As young, able-bodied citizens with free time, we wanted to shoulder some of that responsibility within our communities. We’re here to do the grunt work while others focus on tackling the bigger issues.
We have gathered a team of thousands of incredible volunteers who are working to make these uncertain times a little safer for those most at risk, and if you need our assistance we are here for you.”
Here’s how it works:
- Fill out the “Request a Delivery” form.
- You’ll get a phone call from a volunteer in your neighborhood who will be completing your delivery, so you can confirm for them exactly what you need and where you need it from. We want to make sure we get it right!
- You can choose to pay in one of three ways:
- Call the store in advance to place the order and pay with your credit card over the phone, letting them know someone else will be picking it up on your behalf
- Provide your volunteer with cash before they complete the order
- Reimburse the volunteer after they pick up your items
Invisible Hands’ Health Guidelines & Delivery Protocol
As not every COVID-19 carrier is symptomatic, and they cannot completely eliminate risk, Invisible Hands have implemented safety guidelines to minimise any potential transmission of the novel coronavirus.
All their volunteers must confirm that they:
- Have not traveled out of the country in the last 14 days
- Are not exhibiting any signs of compromised health (e.g. runny nose, cough, fever, etc.)
- Have not come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have been practicing social distancing
The group ask their volunteers to wear gloves during deliveries, as well as recommend volunteers avoid touching unnecessary items and utilise a self-checkout option if available. Volunteers are additionally requested to take every CDC-approved safety precaution, including:
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser
- Refraining from touching their face after having been outside
- Sneezing or coughing into their elbow
- Practicing “social distancing” — staying indoors, avoiding crowds, staying 6 feet away from other people if you have to go outside
Volunteers make as minimal contact with the recipient as possible upon delivery:
- They will place items at the door and knock/ring the doorbell and/or call the recipient to inform them that their order has been delivered.
- If items have not already been paid for, payment to the volunteer will be exchanged either via cash, check, or Paypal/Venmo/Cash App/Zelle.
Sign up to volunteer
Since this is a constantly-developing situation, everything is subject to change. We understand that people's daily lives, travel plans, etc. will be constantly evolving. This is extremely flexible and on an as-needed basis so please sign up even if you’re not sure what your life will look like in a week or two. We’re all in the same boat!