In March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak began to effect Warsaw, FLEX alumnus Jakub Dzik ‘19 (Warsaw, Poland/Scio, NY) wanted to help out his local community in this time of need.

According to the World Health Organization, those over the age of 70 are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the best way to stay protected from the virus is to stay home and practice social distancing. This turns buying groceries and prescriptions, typically an easy and routine task, into a risky task for senior citizens. Jakub recognized this and wanted take steps to help his community.

One day Jakub hung a poster on his block, which included his phone number and a notice saying that he would help senior citizens by going to the store to purchase their necessities for them. This allows the seniors to get what they need without leaving their apartments.  From that day forward, Jakub helped a group of his neighbors buy groceries and prescription drugs, leaving the items on their doorstep once a week.He has since used the local NGO that he works for, Start-Up Society, which focuses on promoting civil society and democratic values in Poland, to help organize others to do the same. The volunteers created an event on Facebook to help spread the word and create a community of volunteers across the country.  As part of the Facebook event, they made a poster template, similar to Jakub’s initial poster, which anyone can use on their block to inform those who need help running errands. Volunteers were asked to share photos of their posters and the area or neighborhood they were helping out in. “We have received a lot of photos and warm words as organizers of the project, but more importantly, senior citizens are staying off the streets and staying safe!  Volunteers have received letters and thank-you cards from senior citizens who were extremely grateful. It is difficult for me to determine the number of people who got involved in the project, but dozens of posters were hung, so we were able to look after a fairly large group of people. I’m sure it has made life easier for many senior citizens at risk.” says Jakub.

Jakub is a great example that doing simple things, like running errands for your neighbors, can make a world of difference.  He is just one of many FLEX alumni across the globe volunteering to help out their communities during these difficult times.

 

Written by Andrzej Nowicki ’16 (Warsaw, Poland/Waterloo, IA)

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