NORTH SUMMIT COUNTY — With many people now largely confined to their homes and perhaps having difficulty getting out to get food and other necessities, local help is here in the form of a group of volunteers.
YOUKnighted2020 is made up of several dozen people who will run errands for people, including the elderly. It was quickly organized by Macedonia residents Kim and Farhad Sethna.
"It’s nothing fancy," said Farhad Sethna on Friday. "It’s just a bunch of people getting together to see what we can do to help people."
Sethna said people who need help or want to volunteer can get in touch with YOUKnighted2020 by phone at 330-468-0317 or by email to YOUKnighted2020@gmail.com.
Basically, volunteers would perform such essential services as buying groceries and medications. Those requesting the service, would provide a list of what they need and a budget. The volunteer would then purchase the items and drop them off the home of the person requesting it.
According to an email sent out in response to emails sent to YOUKnighted2020, "A volunteer who is assigned to the request would call the requestor and ascertain the request, address and method of payment. Volunteers would be responsible for practicing safe practices and ‘social distancing.’ Volunteers would receive no reimbursement and would NOT accept any more money than the actual cost of the purchase for the requestor. This is a labor of love, not of profit.
"Volunteers would NOT interact with the people they are collecting and delivering to — drop off would be at the requestor's front door, and if payment is due, the requestor can leave a check taped to the front door, made out to the person who paid for and brought the groceries to the door."
In addition, says the email, some volunteers have said they would also help prepare meals for those that need it.
Sethna said the group would also help those in neighboring communities, including close by outside of Nordonia Hills.
"I don’t think we’re going to say no to them," he said. "We’ll farm it out to our volunteers and whoever can do it will pick up and do it. The goal is to help one another and help doesn’t stop at the Macedonia border."
Sethna said he began forming the group the previous Tuesday, the first day the state’s stay-at-home order was in effect. He began wondering about students in the district who rely upon the schools for meals.
"Putting those two things together, I started thinking, ‘My goodness, what about kids who won’t be able to get a meal at all because they’ve got no one to drive them to the high school and pick up these meals,’" said Sethna.
He and his family then realized that others may also need help and they began putting the word out about what the family was doing, starting at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Macedonia, where the Sethna’s are parishioners.
"Volunteers just started pouring in and we got probably 20, 25 people on the first day itself saying, ‘We want to help, what can we do?’" said Sethna. "And then I’ve been getting five or six volunteers a day since then. We’re up to maybe 35 volunteers right now who are ready, willing and able to help. What I’d like to have are people who need help. So we have dedicated people who are ready to help, ready to jump in a car and grocery shop for people, take things to people."
Sethna said he and his family will also take part. This includes, besides Kim, their two youngest sons still living at home; Darayus, a junior at Nordonia High School who has his driver’s license, and Devin, an eighth grader.
"I will probably do the first couple myself or with my son, see what it is like so that I can advise people in the future of what to expect," said Sethna.
Sethna said that although YOUKnighted2020 started because of the immediate emergency of the pandemic, he can see that it might outlast it because even in ordinary times, people sometimes still have transportation issues.
"Once you have a dedicated core of people and those people are saying, ‘Look, we are not going back to work and we do not work usually. We are homemakers or grandparents ourselves or whatever. We have time. Why not help people if we can,’" he said.
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org