Thanks to our army of volunteers, all clients will still be served.
We had just successfully completed our Passover grocery distribution to more than 1,000 families via curbside and home deliveries when I received a letter sent to my home from an anonymous client who expressed deep concern about Yad Ezra moving to a “deliveries-only” process during the pandemic.
The author of the letter was so worried that s/he would not get home grocery delivery due to the (unstated) far distance that s/he lives. This letter haunted me because, since the beginning of the pandemic, my main concern has been ensuring our vulnerable client families they would receive the groceries that they depend on, regardless of what it would take on our part to make part to make that happen.
Yad Ezra has always relied on a corps of volunteers to work with the small staff to execute its mission. On April 21, we officially launched our “deliveries-only” process with the help and support of many volunteers from all over the community. Providing approximately 1,100 deliveries a month is a daunting endeavor, and Daniella Harpaz Mechnikov, Yad Ezra’s logistics czarina, is leading the charge to coordinate this effort.
With the support of other Yad Ezra team members, volunteers are invited to sign up and choose their delivery dates for dropping off groceries to client families. Volunteers are registering to do deliveries in Rochester, Bloomfield Hills, Clarkston, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Troy, Livonia, Pontiac, Walled Lake, Waterford and any other city where clients live.
To ease some of the burden, Jewish Family Service and the Ford Motor Company Fund have offered some of their drivers and vans to deliver to the more concentrated areas that we serve (Oak Park and Southfield). Drivers from Ann Arbor and Flint continue to come to Yad Ezra to pick up groceries for their client families (43 and 18, respectively), along with those picking up for 20 Kadima and 22 JARC homes.
While our phones continue to ring off the hook from clients with questions and concerns, our community’s response to collectively helping manage this pandemic continues to be a force that helps us get through the more exhausting days. Our Jewish community, under Federation’s leadership, has come together in ways that provide us with the resources needed to support the many vulnerable and isolated individuals during this unprecedented time.
I wish I could contact the concerned client and reassure her/him that healthy groceries will be delivered to their door, regardless of their address. Because I don’t know who that person is or where s/he lives, I can only hope they see this piece in the Detroit Jewish News, our community’s messenger, and are comforted by the fact that they are not alone, or, more importantly, not forgotten.
Lea Luger is executive director of Yad Ezra.