Boothbay Region Community Resource Council has been using its Boothbay Rides volunteers to provide free grocery delivery since March. Rides, formerly Friends in Service Helping (FISH), is a nonmedical driving program for qualifying community members of Southport, Boothbay Harbor, Boothbay and Edgecomb.
CRC Operations Coordinator Breanna Davis has been in charge of Rides for two years since FISH coordinator Sue Wilson passed the torch on FISH’s 20-year anniversary. She said when the program morphed to include groceries, she had 25-30 volunteers, including many from the FISH days who wanted to stay on. However, since many have settled back into their normal routines or are working from home, the numbers are down to 10-15.
“Now that cases have kind of spiked, it's starting to get scarier now and at this point businesses are not closing so we're still in that pickle,” said Davis. “But there's still definitely that need.”
As the pandemic goes on, the need for more drivers will increase especially because volunteers give their time at their own discretion, said Davis. “We require a 48-hour notice to give drivers time to look at their schedules … It's all about the volunteer's availability and what they can do and that's why having a big volunteer pool helps.”
CRC’s Holly Stover said volunteers for all programs are vetted through the agency and that they are always looking for people willing to do grocery or other transportation. “That's kind of tough right now with COVID … We feel an obligation during the pandemic to reach out to people in the community and make sure we help them stay safe … We'd really like to encourage people on the peninsula, if they’re concerned about going to the grocery store, to please contact us.”
Davis said the overall Rides program has seen little change since the start of the pandemic. People can still schedule rides and drivers have adapted safety measures like masking, sanitizing, maximum distancing and optimum air circulation making the service practical.
The need for volunteer drivers is important for the public to know, said Davis and Stover. Drivers are finding that even while taking all steps to stay safe and keep others safe, it has been a good outlet for socialization, said Stover.
Said Davis, “There's also a lot of new people moving into the area and with very little mingling … this is a really good way for people new to the area to dive in and become part of Boothbay, to get involved and get to know all their neighbors and help out until they can meet people the normal way.”
For the Rides services and grocery delivery or to volunteer, contact Davis from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at 633-4357.