When Peter and Lorraine Derise saw how fast coronavirus was spreading, they were terrified.
“If I become infected, chance is I won’t survive,” said Peter Derise, 75, who suffers from COPD, diabetes and recently had open heart surgery.
“We started to think, ‘How are we going to get out to the stores?’”
Luckily for them, volunteers like Alex Meadows are using their free time to make free grocery runs for people who are 60 and over through the Umbrella organization, which provides services for seniors.
“I don’t know what we’d do without them. … They have been like angels from heaven for us,” said Lorraine Derise, 67, who also uses the service for her nonagenarian parents.
Meadows, 46, of Northport, L.I., works full-time from home alongside two teenage daughters but was feeling “helpless” as the crisis waged war on her town and wanted to do something to give back.
“I have a lot of friends who are in the healthcare industry and I know they’re working extremely hard and that it’s pretty draining on them. I don’t have that skill set,” Meadows told The Post.
“My parents are both deceased, but if they were still alive … I would hope that somebody in their community would do the same thing for them.”
On March 24, Meadows signed up with Umbrella and has been making deliveries as often as she can.
“Every time I log on to the app, it seems like there are more and more jobs that are available to pick up,” Meadows said.
“The seniors that I’ve met … they’re just so grateful that there’s a service out there that’s allowing them to get obviously much-needed supplies.”
The elderly in need send Meadows a list of groceries and typically ask her to shop in their local store that has the specific items they’re looking for. She calls when she’s on the way, lets them know the groceries are coming, and then sticks around until the groceries are brought in to make sure nothing spoils.
“Then I kind of just wave, you know from several feet away, and they wave back and they look pretty happy to know that they can now eat for the next week,” Meadows said.
She says she takes the right precautions — lots of hand washing and sanitizing — in between the runs but acknowledges she is putting herself at a higher risk.
Still, “I consider myself a pretty lucky person. I’m employed, I’m happily married, my husband is employed. And I have time in my schedule right now to be able to give back to the community,” Meadows said.
“I’m thrilled to be able to do that.”
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