Relief Shopper Relieves Elderly


Anahi Lomeli, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 virus has numerous effects, from schools being moved online to new contactless ways of shopping.Perhaps the group that is least reliant on this method is the elderly population. That is where the Relief Shoppers comes into play.

The Relief Shoppers is a non-profit, volunteer-based, free grocery delivery service aimed to aid the immuno-compromised. This organization allows call-ins rather than making online grocery lists. The founder of Relief Shoppers is Ulysis Baal, who felt a call to action to help the elderly in his community. His organization was established in 2019 with the help of his parents who are, “really well known and respected by the elderly,” says their outreach coordinator, Monisha Lewis.

The success of the journey has been quite remarkable, given they were only established two years ago in the toughest of times. The organization has a large workforce in Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles and Orange County. Home base is here in town and currently holds 30-40 volunteers with over 100 recipients. Lewis also mentions that the organization is trying to strengthen LA’s base just as much as Bakersfield. Relief Shoppers’ mission statement very much captures the compassion and love the affected so desperately needs. According to their website, they believe, “our mission is to lend a helping hand to the most vulnerable in our society during these trying times…By doing the shopping for vulnerable individuals, our volunteers enable independent older adults and immuno-compromised individuals to lessen their interactions with large gatherings, long lines, door handles, buttons—all potential platforms through which the virus can spread”.  It should be emphasized that this service can be used by anyone who feels the need for it.

While most of Relief Shopper’s clientele are elderly folk, anyone from pregnant women to people with diabetes are more than welcome to take advantage of the service. The organization also stresses the importance of cleanliness and carefulness during the transactions between shopper and recipient. Masks are made mandatory to wear by both parties, groceries and carts are wiped down, and a strong suggestion to be vaccinated is urged. Lewis gladly reports that no cases of reported illness have arisen yet. She also explains that, “there is lots of trust between volunteers and home base when it comes to being vocal about being sick”. Lewis also excitedly reports that close to 400 hours of volunteer work have been recorded since the kick-off of the organization.

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer, please note that anyone 16+ with a valid driver’s license is urged to help. If you are a college student with a busy schedule, don’t worry. There is no commitment or contracts that need to be made by volunteering. Accommodation to your availability is very much prioritized. Click on this link to volunteer.If you cannot offer your time but would still like to help, a donations option is on their website.

Please continue to spread the word as another  way to help the organization if donations are not the best option for you. If you think you know someone who could benefit from the service, please contact Monisha Lewis at [email protected].