Umbrella is hoping to gain volunteers to meet demand.
A New York-based company called Umbrella is offering a new service to combat the realities of isolation, and it has just launched that service in Detroit.
Before COVID, Umbrella was running a marketplace app connecting adults over 60 with a network of gig economy workers who would run errands and do household tasks for them: such as picking up prescriptions or helping to clean out gutters. Operating in New York, New Jersey and in Florida, it charged an annual membership fee plus an hourly fee for the length of each task completed.
Now, in the era of fraught grocery store visits, when leaving one’s house can feel like suiting up for battle, they are doing something new. Umbrella is using its technology to mobilize volunteers to fetch groceries, prescriptions and household items for seniors, and deliver them in CDC-recommended, safe and contactless ways. Delivery is free. The the 60+ user covers the cost of the items delivered and may chip in a donation, but is not required to pay anything for delivery services.
This comes at a time when few grocery delivery services in Metro Detroit (Instacart and Shipt) have seen historic demand and are almost entirely unavailable. For folks over 60 looking for items to be delivered, this is a godsend.
Lindsay Ullman, the CEO of Umbrella, said, “We look forward to doing our part to help make navigating this pandemic a little bit easier for older adults in Detroit. If we can relieve some of the fear and anxiety that people have about how to get groceries, medications and other essentials while staying home, that’s our goal. “
Umbrella rolled out its volunteer delivery service in the three new markets of Metro Detroit, Birmingham, Alabama and Cleveland, Ohio, in partnership with Venture for America, a national entrepreneurship fellowship that helps connect recent college graduates (including, three years ago, the author of this article) with startup jobs in cities across the US, including those three markets.
VFA is helping Umbrella to build their volunteer forces in those cities to meet demand.