During this pandemic, Rhode Islanders have suffered deep losses. We’ve lost friends, family and neighbors to COVID, and continue to watch as many are still struggling with its lingering effects. We have masked over our smiles, socially distanced ourselves away from hugs, skipped critical rites of passage and communed through one Zoom too many. Yet this week, Rhode Islanders have a new tool to fight pandemic despair and increase happiness through social connection.
Be Kind RI, a technology platform developed by Nesterly, Inc., works similar to a dating app to pair volunteers with neighbors who need them. Brought to Rhode Island through an innovative partnership between Age Friendly Rhode Island, the RI Community Food Bank, and Family Service of Rhode Island, Be Kind RI is first tackling the hunger crisis in our state, as more than 25% of Rhode Islanders experience food insecurity.
Here’s how it works: volunteers register, define where and when they can lend a helping hand, and receive a text to pick up groceries for a nearby neighbor in need from a local food pantry or grocery. Be Kind RI allows volunteers to accept the request, or take a pass– no hard feelings! Projects that are passed go to the next volunteer on the text/SMS list. Unlike other volunteer programs, this service is 100% free to use and hyper-local, so Rhode Islanders can opt to do a service project only in their neighborhoods or nearby one.
“With all of the uncertainty in our daily lives during COVID, Be Kind RI allows Rhode Islanders to step in when they can to help a neighbor. Be Kind RI is a way for Rhode Islanders to be there for one another, at a time when we need that connection most,” Maggie Slane, FSRI’s Advancement VP notes, “And guess what? When we are kind to others, research shows that we are happier and healthier. So, what we are asking you do to is to be kind, volunteer to bridge food access gaps for those in need, and spread a little happiness around our state.”
Be Kind RI is currently recruiting 200 volunteers and will launch food assistance support for seniors and others at higher risk for COVID during the week of March 15th. For more information and to register, visit www.bekindri.org