Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted with permission from the reporter and the Hawk Herald, student news site of Forest Hills Eastern High School.
Vishnu Mano (class of 2023) and his younger brother Krishna Mano (class of 2026) recently created a website in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
For the past year, the brothers have been part of a community service group known as the Kaufman Scholars, run by GVSU’s Kaufman Interfaith Institute. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, the group has been meeting virtually through Zoom. Vishnu and Krishna led a committee focused on community mobilization in Grand Rapids. They analyzed which demographics are impacted the most by the virus. Krishna and Vishnu realized that people with weakened immune systems were so afraid of contracting the virus that some were unable to leave their homes. They had no way of getting groceries or other essential items themselves. To solve this, Vishnu and Krishna created their website, Recharge Our Community.
The website serves as a platform to connect people who have pre-existing medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems to volunteers who are willing to buy groceries and other essential items for these people. There are several other features as well, like a page dedicated to information about finding employment. The website supports several local nonprofits: Kaufman Scholars, the Community Food Club, En Vivo Church, and the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood.
Vishnu explained the importance of helping others right now: “During this time of social distancing, volunteering helps us feel more connected while helping our community. Over 3% of the adult population of the U.S. has weakened immune systems, in addition to the elderly. These people cannot risk contracting COVID-19, and therefore can’t go outside, even to buy essential items like food.
“Helping people like this is something all of us can do. It would be a kind and thoughtful act to remember those who can’t afford to step out during this pandemic the next time we step out to buy essential items.”
This website is intended to help/be used by:
- Healthy people who are willing to volunteer to buy groceries/essential items for people who have weakened immunity/medical conditions.
- People who can’t go out and buy groceries/essential items due to weakened immunity/medical conditions,
- People who may not be able to volunteer but would like to donate money/resources to three organizations (Community Food Bank, En Vivo Church, Roosevelt Park Neighborhood).
- Unemployed people looking for new opportunities/unemployment benefits. The website has a regularly updated Employment News page, regarding companies that are hiring essential workers in Grand Rapids during this pandemic.
How to use the website:
- Go to Recharge Our Community.
- The green button that states “I can help” is for volunteers to apply. If you click the green button, a form will appear, asking for the required information to qualify as a volunteer.
- The red button that says “Need Help?” is for people with compromised immune systems (people with pre-existing conditions or the elderly), to apply. If you click the red button, a form will appear asking for the required information to apply for help. All the information that is submitted is kept private.
- The website then links the volunteers to a person that needs help in the area and sends them a list of all the items they need.
- On the home page, there is a blue button that says “Donate Now”. This button brings the user to a page that allows them to donate funds to the Community Food Club and resources to En Vivo Church and the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood in Grand Rapids.
- At the bottom of the home page, there is a section called Employment News. It is a page that is updated daily regarding new employment opportunities for essential workers, how to file for unemployment benefits, and other news that could help the unemployed population of Grand Rapids during this pandemic.
Vishnu wanted to remind everyone of a quote from Mother Teresa: “It’s not about how much you do, but how much love you put into what you do that counts.” He emphasized that volunteering to buy essential items for people who can’t risk contracting the virus is an act of kindness. Instead of feeling sorry for people who can’t step outside, volunteering to help them and volunteering with love will bring them happiness and joy. Community service not only helps the people who need it but also connects us to the community with a sense of satisfaction.
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