MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Grocery store chains and retailers all over the United States are opening up early for seniors and those who are considered "at-risk" during the coronavirus pandemic. However, there are some who can't leave their home and some who don't have anyone to get them the things they need.
Enter the "Buddy System Network" – started by Miami natives Jessica Gutierrez and Kristin Guerin.
"We just noticed there are people who don't have that support system," said Gutierrez. "We really want to push the initiative to have as much unity and peace."
"Connects folk at-risk with volunteers in their neighborhood who can run errands such a picking up groceries or medicine," explained Guerin.
Gutierrez works at a yoga studio and is studying to be a midwife. Even though she's not currently working and her own life has been upended, she felt a call to help.
"It's been so amazing to be so productive in this quarantine and do something with the community," said Gutierrez.
Here's how it works: A volunteer is paired up with a "buddy" – someone who is considered "at risk" for exposure to COVID-19. That can include the elderly, pregnant women or people with health conditions. The volunteer picks up what the "buddy" needs, drops them off and gets paid.
Pilar in Hialeah is in her 70s and has various underlying medical conditions. On Wednesday, Gutierrez brought to her orange juice, apples and other vegetables she needed.
Through social media, the Buddy System has grown to more than 200 volunteers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties in just eight days. Similar efforts are being seen nationwide.
Aside from giving people the things they need, the Buddy System volunteers are also providing companionship, comfort and community.
"We've been getting people reaching out saying thank you we feel seen, I feel less alone in this pandemic," said Gutierrez.
"Our short term goal is absolutely to limit exposure to the virus, but our long-time goal is to help create community," said Guerin. "We hope to see more neighbors helping neighbors and these buddy relationships blossom and continue to grow well past the coronavirus scare."
To contact the Buddy System:
- English – (203) 858-4653
- Spanish – (786) 340-7720
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