You don’t have to look or go far to find heart-warming examples of Bedford residents doing one of the things they do best — being good neighbors to help and support one another. The Covid-19 threat and social distancing have clearly presented unique challenges but neighborhood by neighborhood, group by group, street by street, and individual by individual Bedford residents of all ages are taking care of one another – just like they always do. For more than a decade the Bedford Neighbor Brigade has been poised and ready to meet the needs of our residents.
Amy Mason, Chapter Leader of the Bedford Neighbor Brigade, shared her thoughts to update us on the role of the Brigade and how it assists those in need.
What is The Neighbor Brigade operating mission?
Neighbor Brigade is a non-profit organization with volunteers standing by to provide help to residents facing sudden crises with day-to-day tasks such as providing meals, rides, errands, and dog walks. We help those in a temporary situation such as an illness, surgery, accident, death in the family, etc. Using web-based coordination tools, we manage recipient requests and the recruitment of volunteers to fulfill those requests sensitively, quickly, and free of charge.
Tell us a little about what the Neighbor Brigade has does in the past
Bedford Neighbor Brigade, formerly Bedford Angels, started in 2009 and has since then served over 700 families and has completed 2,000+ tasks. In addition, we also hold drives for families and various local organizations to provide clothing, toys, diapers, hygiene products, gift cards, and more.
How will the Bedford Neighbor Brigade be modified and involved in meeting resident needs during Covid-19?
Neighbor Brigade and its board of directors have made a temporary amendment towards its scope of services in efforts to help communities and support residents during this unprecedented health crisis. Effective immediately Neighbor Brigade volunteers will have the option of supporting residents and town-wide efforts focusing on food security, food distribution, and distribution of essential supplies and medications to some of our most vulnerable populations listed below:
- Kids/teens on reduced and free lunches at the schools
- Constituents of local food pantries
- Individuals and families that are at low-income and poverty levels
- Quarantined or self-isolating residents that also meet at least one of the above criteria
Although the Bedford Neighbor Brigade typically also offers rides to appointments, they have suspended this service during the current coronavirus outbreak.
How many Bedford Neighbor Brigade volunteers are there?
Nearly 250 and growing!
Will there be sufficient volunteers to meet the need?
Absolutely! Many new and current volunteers are standing by to offer assistance. Volunteers are required to complete a CORI check through Neighbor Brigade which is quick and easy. They must also complete the Covid-19 online training on our site.
Can you share information about the ages of your volunteers?
Yes. Out of the 168 people that provided their age, this is the range
- 15-24 = 02
- 35-44 = 16
- 45-54 = 70
- 55-64 = 62
- 65-74 = 12
- 75-84 = 06
Do you think some of the upper age groups will be reluctant to volunteer at this time?
Yes, and that is understandable! We are being extremely careful with our assistance. We are following strict guidelines so that none of our volunteers or recipients are put at risk.
Have there been many new volunteers since Covid-19 became our new norm?
Yes, quite a few new volunteers have reached out to see how they can help and have since joined the Brigade. It’s amazing how giving people are even during scary times like these.
With so many college and high school students now home with their families, we would love to welcome more younger Brigade members. Students 14 years old and up can join us with parental permission. Many like to walk dogs, help with meals, etc.
What kind of help do you think will be most requested? Is age a factor in terms of who might need assistance?
We anticipate helping mostly those who need to stay at home because of their age or being compromised due to Covid-19 with errands, grocery shopping, prescription pick up, and friendly phone calls.
Our request for services has increased exponentially in the past two weeks, and we expect those requests to grow. We need help to keep up with the demand so that we can continue our work of neighbors helping neighbors. During this critical time please consider making a tax-deductible donation so that our staff and volunteers can respond effectively to those in crisis!
Will most new clients self identify? Or will they be referred by a partner Bedford agency?
I think it will be a mix. I’ve been in touch with the Bedford Board of Health, the Council on Aging, the Bedford Police Department, the Bedford Schools, and the Bedford Rotary to let them know we are standing by to help if they know of anyone who could use our assistance. They are all providing such great resources to our residents and we’ve partnered with them over the years to help in different ways.
What would you like people to know?
The town of Bedford is a close-knit community. We look out for each other, and when a crisis occurs friends, family, religious institutions stand ready to help. But often, these situations can last for months due to medical appointments, treatment, follow-up care, etc. The Brigade can help share the load or take over when family has to get back to their schedules. Many people do not have family or other close connections and are very relieved when volunteers from Bedford Neighbor Brigade are standing by to help!
Polly Mendoza, Neighbor Brigade Executive Director, added the following information regarding safety: As a reminder during this crisis, only volunteers with the correct qualifications can see available volunteer opportunities which include having a current background check on file, taking our Covid-19 online training, agreeing to our handbook, and completing the food handler training. These qualifications assure the safety of our volunteers and clients during this pandemic. We have added the new mask/covering requirement to the Covid-19 training. If you have already completed the training, by signing up for any activity you are agreeing to these new guidelines effective April 4, 2020.
- phone: 781-526-5269
- email: BedfordMA@neighborbrigade.org
- facebook: Bedford Neighbor Brigade
- web: http://www.neighborbrigade.org/
- volunteer login: http://volunteer.neighborbrigade.org
Learn more about the Bedford Neighbor Brigade at https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2015/09/bedford-neighbor-brigade-your-bedford-family/ – Bedford Neighbor Brigade – Your Bedford “Family” – The Bedford Citizen | September 3, 2015