The spread of Coronavirus is having a huge impact on the lives of all Madisonians, especially those at high risk. There are some very specific services – whether it be material or emotional support – that many people are having trouble accessing right now.
“As Coronavirus has been progressing, one of the things that the government and everybody is rightfully suggesting is that everybody stays at home, but the challenges is for those folks who are in the at-risk bucket,” Farhan Ahmad tells Madison365. “They are not being provided with guidance on how to meet the basic needs they have around grocery pick-up, prescription pick-up and other things that they need to have done.
“They are essentially being told not to do it, but are then not given an alternative on how to accomplish their basic needs,” he adds.
With that in mind, Ahmad, a Madison-area health care IT entrepreneur, has launched the “Coranavirus Assistance System” in an effort to give something back to the community during these tough times. His goal is to connect those in need with those that are able to help.
His website provides free services for the most at-risk community members who can request grocery delivery, prescription pick-up, or a phone call for emotional support. The service is free. On the volunteer side, community members can sign up to help at-risk community members in need in a variety of ways.
Ahmad says that there are hundreds and hundreds of Facebook groups and local initiatives where there is plenty of volunteer interest for people who want to help other people. It’s just a matter of bringing people together.
“Some of these Facebook sites that have 5,000 or 6,000 volunteers but even they struggle to bring this all together,” Ahmad says. “As I’ve talked to a lot of those groups, one of the things that I’ve found out is that they have a lot of volunteers but not many people that are actually looking for help. Part of the problem is that the folks who should be asking for help are not getting the right messaging around it – meaning that many of the groups position themselves as targeting the financially needy whereas many of the at-risk folks have enough to be paying for what they need.”
Those folks will not leverage this multitude of networks that are targeting the financially needy folks. So, the goal that Ahmad had was to properly message this for people who are at risk but don’t truly have a financial need.
“We want to make sure we minimize their exposure to times when they might be at risk of catching the virus,” he says. “Our intention is not to exclude folks who are financially needy but to really focus on the folks that can benefit from staying out of these situations.”
Ahmad first started to pull it together on March 15. Last week, they released the alpha version as they did some basic testing. “This week we actually did the first actual production launch,” he says.
We’ve been building a platform to bring people together while addressing the harder problems,” he adds. “I think this is a very worthy cause and it will help with flattening the curve.”
To access the Volunteer Coronavirus Assistance System, click here.
“We are all in this together,” Ahmad says. “I have older parents myself and am in a fortunate position where I can help them, but I looked around to see that there are many folks who do not have those similar systems and that’s where we’re really hoping we can help.”