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The group plans to leave supplies on doorsteps to avoid as much human contact as possible during the outbreak.
The group plans to leave supplies on doorsteps to avoid as much human contact as possible during the outbreak.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

Miami Volunteers Deliver Supplies to Elderly and Sick During COVID-19 Outbreak

Kristin Guerin moved to Miami temporarily a few months ago. The 30-year-old actress assumed she'd be spending her time performing at the Faena Theater's production of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover.

Instead, the novel coronavirus outbreak took hold. Able-bodied, healthy, and cooped up in her apartment with nothing to do, she and 24-year-old friend Jessica Gutierrez wanted to use their newfound free time productively. Two days ago, the two announced they would begin delivering supplies and groceries to the elderly, immunocompromised, and anyone else unable to risk coming down with COVID-19 by leaving home.

"We were just at a loss for what to do and felt helpless," Guerin told New Times by phone last night. "We're hoping to bring this community together in a way that would be productive for our neighbors or friends who are immunocompromised and scared and don't know what to do. If you're in New York City, you can maybe knock next door and talk to your neighbors, but we're worried about people here who feel isolated or don't have the ability to contact family and friends to help gather resources."

The friends have now set up an online buddy system whereby able-bodied and healthy adults can volunteer to pick up supplies for those unable to leave their homes during the pandemic. Volunteers looking to donate their time, as well as people seeking help, can email buddysystemmia@gmail.com. Guerin says the group plans to leave supplies on doorsteps to avoid as much human contact as possible during the outbreak.

Similar mutual-aid groups have sprung up around the nation in the past few days as the virus has spread. According to the news outlet the City, organizers formed a similar group in Queens, New York called COVID Care to deliver groceries in the Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst neighborhoods. Volunteers in that city also have organized volunteer childcare co-ops to cope with school shutdowns, as well as donation drives to help service workers affected financially after government officials closed most shops and restaurants this week.

As of last night, Guerin and Gutierrez had already found about a dozen people willing to go on grocery runs for people around Miami. Guerin herself was preparing for her initial run as she spoke with New Times yesterday.

"My first run is for a woman who is immunocompromised and lives with her father, who is elderly, in Sunny Isles Beach," she said. "I have a few more tomorrow. Fortunately, both of us are very underemployed right now. It seems like all our volunteers are as well."

To volunteer or request help, email buddysystemmia@gmail.com.

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