Each year, hundreds of Yale alumni, students, staff, family, and friends take part in Yale Day of Service, giving back to local communities across the country and around the world. In this series, we’ll be spotlighting a few of those Yalies, who discuss how they got involved and what service means to them.
How did you become part of Yale’s alumni service community?
I became part of Yale’s alumni service community while I was still a student at Yale. In March 2020, I was a junior on spring break in my home city of New York. When the pandemic hit, I knew I wanted to do something more than just stay at home. A fellow alum, Simone Policano ’16, and I started a group called Invisible Hands. We would go shopping and pick up any essentials that homebound residents needed throughout New York. Within three days of launching our service, 1,300 people had signed up to help. The outpouring of community support, from within the Yale community and beyond it, inspired us to keep the good work going.
Now two years into the pandemic, we have raised the money to hire staff and expand our impact to address the longstanding crisis of food insecurity. We partner with food pantries, mutual aid groups, and religious institutions to deliver food to those who can’t afford it. Seventy-five percent of people who are experiencing food insecurity don’t go to food pantries, due to logistical challenges, scheduling issues, or social stigma. We aim to provide a safe, efficient, anonymous delivery service to prioritize our community’s safety, dignity, and valuable time.
We are always looking for volunteers, either in person or remote. You can sign up at InvisibleHandsDeliver.org. If you can donate to support our grassroots work, please join us at InvisibleHandsDeliver.org/donate.
Tell us a story that exemplifies service for you. Or perhaps a favorite Yale Day of Service memory.
I received an email from a woman in Michigan. Her 83-year-old father, Harry, lived alone in Manhattan and had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Isolated, he had no way of getting food. His daughter heard about us on “Good Morning America” and submitted a request on our website. Our volunteer, Duncan, started delivering food and medicine to Harry once a week. Then they’d sit on either side of Harry’s door and chat. They never once saw each other; neither would have recognized the other if they passed on the street. But they became friends.
His daughter said, “My father was lonely and afraid. But you made it possible for him to live as normal a life as possible. Although my father has passed from COVID-19, please know that your help was not in vain and that he spoke so highly of you and the help, reassurance, and relief that you provided.”