A group of dedicated volunteers continue to make a difference for South Pasadena community members.
Through a grassroots organization – South Pasadena Volunteer Grocery Shoppers – the team of workers have been busy picking up groceries for seniors, families with immune-compromised individuals carrying the motto: “You Buy, We Deliver.”
And the good news, delivery is absolutely free.
“We have a team of team of volunteers who will use your shopping list of necessities and deliver to your door. Payment can be cash, check or payment apps of PayPal or Venmo. If you simply do not have the funds and cannot currently make payment we will be glad to refer you to a local agency for assistance,” describes a flyer describing the program.
“A few of us who are regularly engaged in the community recognized early on that there were many neighbors (both businesses and individuals) who were in need of not being addressed and served, and that the needs would likely intensify as the situation continued surrounding Covid-19 rapidly and significantly devolved with the stay at home orders,” explained Andrew Berk, one of the organizers behind the effort. “In the middle of March, we brainstormed to see where we could quickly put a plan in place to address the need for food and groceries to get to folks in their homes. Traditionally many of them were not relying on outside help that would now be needed. Sitting on the board of directors for the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, I had some initial conversations with our president, Laurie Wheeler, where we started to address and came up with ideas to reach out and help our local businesses, including our retail and restaurants to stay informed, stay open, and remain stable on the business side. The conversation shifted to other areas where the needs of our community were not, or were possibly not, going to be met.”
Berk and others, including proven leaders in town quickly put the wheels in motion. “When I reached out to our friend Ed Donnelly (co-founder of D.U.D.E.S. – Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service, a group that generously give back to many South Pasadena projects), we learned that he was concurrently also working with a team that was considering putting such a delivery system together and we added a few others, what we call ‘no BS’, thought and action leaders to hash out best practices, logistics, other details, and the format of how the program could work.”
Soon after, with support coming from ZOOM and other technological and social media platform advances, South Pasadena Volunteer Grocery Shoppers was off and running.
Seniors, those with underlying health conditions, and families with special needs students, are benefiting the most from the service, noted Berk. “What we were finding is that the seniors and those most at risk and who were not using the more traditional social and in place community programs out there set up for others in their demographic. When I visited a senior 90+ year-old neighbor of mine, I was reminded how extremely independent they were, and that they were not being communicated to strongly enough as to the options for getting groceries coupled with the risk associated with them going to very public places. So our goal was to try and reach those people by keeping them in their homes and safer.”
South Pasadena Volunteer Grocery Shopper is a “no contact delivery,” service, as a volunteer will not enter a person’s home and will make every effort to accommodate needs of residents when it comes to availability and accessibility.
During a time of need, city staff members are making Meals on Wheels deliveries for the South Pasadena Senior Center while resident volunteers are dropping off goods through the volunteer grocery shoppers program. The two efforts are designed to make life easier for many citizens in town.
Much of the success of the South Pasadena Volunteer Grocery Shoppers effort goes to Jeff Rosenberg, the current president of the D.U.D.E.S., who has built a robust order management system on his computer “to keep things running smoothly,” noted Donnelly. “Once we have their shopping list a volunteer is assigned and goes to either Trader Joe’s or a supermarket depending on what is needed. The volunteer buys as many things from the shopping list as they can find and delivers the bags in front of the door, rings the bell and steps back to be sure there is no contact.”
The person who ordered the groceries then pays via PayPal or check, ensuring the volunteer is reimbursed immediately after the delivery food and merchandise.
“We plan to keep this program in place until it is safe for vulnerable populations like seniors or immune compromised people to return to the store,” explained Donnelly.
More than 100 local residents from all corners of the city are signed up to be Volunteer Grocery Shoppers. To lend a hand, simply go to SP-Volunteers.com, and fill out a short form, Donnelly, pointing out: “It takes less than a minute to fill out.”
To reach a volunteer grocery shopper, call and leave a message at (626) 667-4378 or fill out the form at SP-Volunteers.com Someone will get back to you within 12 hours. You may also make a donation at this site.