Matt Croke, who joined forces with Tanay Ventaka, Alex Kim, and Stephen Xu to form the organization, answered a few questions that I shot over to him after learning about the effort (I also passed along contact info for a senior citizen who reached out to us in need of some shopping help).
When did you start this? How many jobs have you done so far? What sorts of things?
We started the Wellesley Student Coronavirus Organization just almost a week ago. Since we are all out of school for an indefinite amount of time, we decided we wanted to give back to the community in a way that will help combat this horrible virus. We have only done one job so far, which will be completed today on March 20th. We have had many people contact us using the google form on our website, as well as directly emailing us about the organization. In its initial stage, our organization will solely cover grocery, and other small errand runs. Although, we plan on expanding to broader topics, such as collecting high-ticket items, such as hand sanitizer and masks, through donations, and distributing them throughout the community at a later date.
What was the genesis of it?
Our group came alive when one of the founders was talking with their grandmother about how they were holding up during this tough time. The grandmother said that she was doing fine, but did not want to leave the house to get groceries, because she was afraid she would contract the virus. Our team thought that there must be many more people in Wellesley who are fearful of the same thing, so we decided to start this free-of-charge organization. We first constructed a website, then posted our idea on Facebook, which is where a majority of our volunteers came from. We have also posted roughly 50 flyers around the town of Wellesley
Is it mainly the 4 of you on the website, or do you have a broader band of volunteers?
The four of us on the site are the founders of this organization, but we have gained over ten volunteers who have offered to help us distribute groceries. We are very grateful to have these volunteers on our side, and it will make our efforts to fight against this virus much stronger. We have also contacted [the Wellesley Coronavirus Community Support Program], a similar organization, so now we have access to their volunteers as well. We have just recently been in contact with Mrs. Biro and Mrs. Chalmers, who work for the World of Wellesley organization, who are guiding us through this experience as adult supervisors. We thank them very much for everything they have done for us.
What do your parents think?
Initially, when our parents found out we would be out of school for over three weeks, they were alarmed because they didn’t know what we were going to do stuck in a house for three weeks. But now, all of our parents have agreed that this organization is needed in Wellesley, and think it is an excellent use of our time.