At the beginning of spring break, when most high school students are excited for adventure and time away from academics, Marlborough School 11th grader Mira Kwon was feeling helpless and restless.
Kwon, 16, needed to do something to keep herself busy and connected to her community amid a pandemic preventing just that. Then, her aunt sent an email about 16-year-old Daniel Goldberg, who founded the nonprofit Zoomers to Boomers in Santa Barbara.
The nonprofit delivers groceries to seniors and the immunocompromised during the COVID-19 crisis. Kwon, intrigued by Zoomers to Boomers’ mission, reached out to Goldberg and together worked out plans to start a Los Angeles branch.
“I wanted to help seniors like my grandma who couldn’t go out like normal to do their grocery shopping,” Kwon said. “This helps mobilize young people. We have a lot of time on our hands and there was so much chaos. We have a role to play and this gives young people an opportunity to do something.”
Zoomers to Boomers LA has teams that serve Hancock Park, Koreatown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Sherman Oaks and Studio City. The nonprofit operates similar to Instacart – volunteers purchase the order of groceries and the client will receive the receipt to pay through cash, Venmo or check. Drivers will call prior to the delivery with the total cost and an ETA.
There are no tips or additional payments necessary; however, if someone feels inclined to tip, the organization donates the money back into the community.
People interested in the service can order online at zoomerstoboomers.com/los-angeles, call (323)364-5878, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kwon adapted the model a little differently to ensure safety.
“We weren’t comfortable going into grocery stores,” Kwon said. “So, we reached out to local shops. Not only are we supporting local businesses, but we are providing an essential service to seniors and immunocompromised.”
The Original Farmers Market, located on Third and Fairfax, partnered with Zoomers to Boomers to help them deliver food from the market’s local shops including Farm Fresh Produce, Farm Boy Produce, Huntington Meats and Sausage, Farmers Market Poultry, and Monsieur Marcel’s Gourmet Market and Seafood Market. They’ve also partnered with Beverly Hills Market and Deli to provide additional delivery packages. Hancock Park resident and senior citizen Heide Striegel said she loves the service and has used it four to five times last month. She has developed a relationship with Kwon, who has delivered groceries to her home.
“It has been working like a charm,” Striegel said. “They do a wonderful job. I’ve had some issues with the website and I texted Mira personally and she texted me back saying ‘what do you need.’”
Striegel said that since the COVID-19 pandemic started she hasn’t left her house for anything besides getting fresh air and sunshine, and exercise when she can. She uses services like Zoomers to Boomers LA for her groceries and food orders to support local businesses. She’s ordered produce such as oranges, apples, veggies, arugula and plums for a plum cake. She added that it’s better because it comes from the Original Farmers Market.
“The sense of community has blossomed during the coronavirus,” Striegel said. “It’s wonderful to see young people take care of the older generation. They are accommodating and attentive to what must be done.”
Kwon agrees that the nonprofit has connected teenagers across Los Angeles to address the needs of the community and they have met people they would not have otherwise.
Marlborough School juniors Lexi Gluck, Sadie Well and Eva Rogovin are co-leaders, alongside Kwon. They help manage volunteers and coordinate student schedules so each volunteer can deliver groceries twice a week.
Together, they also ensure volunteers follow safety protocols such as wearing face masks and gloves, keeping cars clean, following social distancing and washing hands.
When Kwon first became involved it was only her and a few friends from Marlborough, but students from public and private schools in different areas of L.A. have stepped up to participate.
Zoomers to Boomers LA caught the attention of Los Angeles Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, who said their work is a wonderful way to keep the community connected while following “Safer at Home” orders.
“Angelenos have shown so much creativity and compassion during this crisis, and Zoomers to Boomers is a perfect example,” Ryu said. “Proactive outreach is needed now – and I’m so impressed with these young people for reaching out and offering help.”
He added that volunteering is central to getting the city through the crisis.
“In times like these, the government can’t do it alone,” Ryu said. “We need community and we need each other to make it through, even when we are physically apart. Everyone has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life, and this crisis has shown the real power of everyday people working to help their neighbors.”
Kwon said the experience of working for Zoomers to Boomers has been exceptional.
“A lot of people are shocked to hear that I’m a high school student, but people are excited to work with us,” Kwon said. “We are so glad to have some meaningful impact on the community.”
For information, visit zoomerstoboomers.com/los-angeles.
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