By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/30/20
Robert Esgro is a goalie on the lacrosse field, but he is making his biggest save now in this time of need.
The 2019 Haverford School grad – a club lacrosse player at Penn State – recently started a non-profit with others in his college named Shop4Seniors.org, which is providing free delivery of goods to older Pennsylvanians and those at high risk of infection during the duration of the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. Shop4Seniors connects volunteers who want to help individuals that are unable to get out for fear of contracting the virus. There are already more than 90 volunteers in nine counties across Pennsylvania.
Eight out of the 10 reported deaths in the United States have been by those 65-years-old or older. Esgro’s Shop4Seniors serves the most vulnerable people and helps stop the spread of the virus.
Recipients can access a form to reach their area coordinator at https://www.shop4seniors.org/getconnected. The Shop4Seniors home page is www.shop4seniors.org, and it is on Facebook at facebook.com/Shop4Seniors. Those interested in volunteering can also go to https://www.shop4seniors.org/getconnected and anybody with questions is encouraged to contact Esgro at email@example.com. Shop4Seniors is also on Instagram
Esgro answered these questions:
Q: How did you to come up with this idea with the global coronavirus pandemic going on?
RE: “I was watching a documentary with my parents late one night on TV about the coronavirus. I started thinking that there had to be something else that I could do instead of sitting around and being disappointed that my club season at Penn State was canceled. I texted a couple of my close friends at Penn State at 1 in the morning, a few hours later after watching the documentary, and I asked them if they wanted to start up a charity to try to help some people that may need some help. They were all on board with this idea from the beginning. It was definitely pretty exciting to get the ball rolling from there with this charity.”
Q: How many volunteers are participating?
RE: “At the moment, we have 90 volunteers across the state. It’s a lot to keep track of, but it’s really rewarding to see so much positive interest in helping out. If there are more people who want to help us, we’ll definitely consider them, as well.”
Q: How do you organize everything with the large group of volunteers? We saw that you had things broken up into counties in the state.
RE: “That’s exactly how we have this set up. My friends at Penn State all live in different counties and we delegate based on the county or the area. I am responsible for Delaware County and Philadelphia County. We also have coordinators in Montgomery County, Chester County, Lancaster County, and all the way out to Allegheny County.”
Q: How does this work? Do seniors provide you with a list and money to purchase the items for the high risk individuals?
RE: “Yes, normally, they would provide us with a list of items that they would need when they notice that they are running low on items like milk, eggs, and butter. They’ll send a list to us by email or phone, and they’ll say they’ll need the items from, say ACME. They’ll ask if we can go pick those items up for them. We’ll pass the list onto the volunteer who lives closest to the seniors and we’ll get that request filled as quickly as we can.”
Q: Who will pay for the items when the seniors request them?
RE: “The recipients pay for the groceries themselves, but we give them free delivery. We want to make sure they aren’t exposing themselves unnecessarily to the virus by leaving their houses.”
Q: What if an individual asks for two of the same items when there are some restrictions on items to one item per person?
RE: “We’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill the request within reason. If they’re asking for some reason to have 30 packages of toilet paper, we’re unfortunately going to tell them that we cannot fulfill that request. However, if there is a genuine need, like hand sanitizer, because they are at-risk and they need more than one, we’ll do everything we can to get them what they requested. We’ll make sure they’ll get exactly what they need if there is a genuine need.”
Q: Do you help out other individuals besides just the seniors?
RE: “The majority of our recipients are seniors, but we don’t exclude by age. We also help out people who are disabled, we’ve helped out a couple of people who are recovering from surgeries. We’ve helped out cancer patients. We’ve even helped out people who have severe forms of asthma. Anybody, who needs help, no questions asked, we’ll help them out.”
Q: Are you willing to recruit more people, besides those that you already have, if there is a need to help out in additional areas?
RE: “Absolutely. We’ll take on as much help as we can get, as long as there is a need for them to help out. Right now, there is definitely a need so if you want to help us out, we’ll gladly take you as long as you meet our requirements.”
Q: How long will this continue if the coronavirus pandemic starts to slow down
RE: “That’s a good question. It depends on if the need is there. Ideally, no one will need our help once the pandemic is over, which is a good thing since everybody will be able to get their own stuff on their own once again and we’ll all be able to come out in public once again. However, that’s pretty wishful thinking. With the way this thing is going, social distancing may not go away for at least the next several months. We’ll stick around as long as it takes to make sure that everybody gets what they need – and even after this pandemic is over. If there are still people who need our help, we’ll be there for them.”
Q: Where are you getting financial support from?
RE: “We’re getting support from donors. We have a donation account set up, but there are not a ton of expenses right now. Finances aren’t really our focal point, it’s just making sure that folks who need help are being helped.”
Q: Have the residents in these areas been supportive of what you’re doing?
RE: “Generally speaking, the response has been extremely positive. Many of our recipients have already expressed gratitude for the newfound safety that Shop4Seniors can help provide to them. We’ve received endorsements from politicians and are even working with local government organizations to help fill needs in their communities. The only negative response that we’ve had so far is that some chain grocery stores — I won’t say the stores — that have contracts for paid delivery are not fans of what we do, because we’re providing a free delivery service. Other than that, the people in these towns and areas have been overwhelmingly supportive of what we do. We have partnerships with organizations, and this is definitely taking off in a positive direction.”
Q: Are your volunteers making the deliveries wearing protective equipment, like masks?
RE: “Yes, we make sure our volunteers are complying with all CDC guidelines when it comes to safety, including social distancing and masks. And actually, through one of our partnerships, we’re actually able to provide masks to our some of our at-risk recipients with their grocery delivery, as well. At this point, we have provided at least 20 masks to different recipients.”
Q: As a lacrosse player you want to be out there playing and competing. But with this virus, you can’t. How is this project helping your perspective on our pandemic?
RE: “It’s true, I would much rather be in season right now on the Penn State Club Lacrosse team, but unfortunately, times have changed. Working with this organization has given me an opportunity to fill that some time by helping others. It’s nice to use the teamwork and leadership skills that I’ve learned through lacrosse and apply them in the real world. We all have to adapt to these times – and mine is helping out to help fill this extra time.”
Q: What roles do you serve day to day on the project?
RE: “As the president of the organization, it really depends on the day. Sometimes, I’ll spend the day making deliveries, while other times, it is a lot of online work, like I’ll be working on our website or social media accounts. I’d say, per day, with limited deliveries, I’d say I spend three hours on this organization, so at least 21 hours a week. Obviously, there are days that exceed the three hours, as like I said, there are days, I’m out there almost all day making deliveries.”