COVID-19: CrowdSource Rescue Delivers Over 220,000 Meals to Households and Calls For Volunteers

Updated: Apr 25


Matthew Marchetti, Co-Founder of CrowdSource Rescue, shares that they have delivered over 220,000 meals to homebound households during COVID-19. They are hoping to keep the momentum going by having more individuals sign up for no-contact food delivery and for more volunteers to carry those orders out.

"We're all in this together. Each person can do a little bit. We'll have volunteers who are doing 12 hour days. . .if you can volunteer to drive for two or three hours, enough people do that and all of a sudden you've delivered 200,000 meals."

Resources Mentioned:

CrowdSource Rescue

Zoom Conference Calls

Google Hangouts

"In Need of Help" Form

"I Can Help" Form

Houston Responds COVID-19 Resources


Transcript:

Tommy Rosson:

Church leaders. Thank you for joining me today. I'm excited to have Matthew Marchetti with me with the CrowdSource Rescue to talk a little bit about how they've transformed their platform from what was a rescue platform in times of hurricanes and disasters like that, to being, to help the community with deliveries of food deliveries for those who can't get out of their house during this time of COVID-19. Matthew, thank you for joining us.


Matthew Marchetti:

Thank you for having me.


Tommy Rosson:

Tell us a little bit about how you get, how CrowdSource Rescue got started.


Matthew Marchetti:

So, I was out in a boat the first day of Hurricane Harvey and coordinating with a couple of people from my church Chapel United Methodist, you know, including the senior pastor John Stephens, who is, you know, out there alongside with us doing way more than me, you know, getting wet too. But there was just this moment where it was just starting to get a little bit frustrating because we kind of knew where some of the people were at, but, we kinda knew where some of the boats were at. But just trying to coordinate that was a bit of a mess. And so sat down with my best friend at about midnight, the first night of Harvey spent about six hours. We made this really simple website. If you need to be rescued fill out a form, if you'll help rescue fill out a form, there's a map that would connect the two.


Kind of like Uber almost. But I texted it to a couple of people with church put like 20 or 30 people into it. Went to bed, woke up a couple of hours later and there were 1500 people in it and it would be a very un-Christian thing that John Stevens, my senior pastor, I probably wouldn't be that upset with me saying it, but it was something along the lines of we are screwed because, you know, there are 1500 requests, what are we going to do about it? But what started happening is people started logging onto the solo map and saying, okay, that makes sense. And just going and rescuing people in your neighborhoods and boats and trucks and you know, 1500 turns into 3,000 turns into 7,000. By the end of the week. I mean, we'd rescued around 25,000 people. Sounds very impressive. We didn't mean to do that.


So ended that week and just said, well, wow...that was interesting. A week and a half later Irma hits, people start using the website again. So we say, okay, I guess it's time for an encore, but then a couple of weeks later, Maria, hits, and people start using again. And then an earthquake in Mexico City. And it was around that time where it's like, I guess this is a thing now. Made it a nonprofit, started getting deep in an emergency management disaster response. Whole idea is, in this major disaster you have volunteers coming out. You also have people requesting on social media, you know, asking for rescue and whatnot. And you also have 911 getting overwhelmed in the heat of the disaster. And we play in the middle of all of that in the response in terms of, you know, neighbors helping neighbors. You may then quickly ask, well, what does that have to do with a pandemic?


Nothing. But as this was coming down, started talking amongst ourselves and realizing like, you know, we might be able to do something with this. I called it over to a friend at the Houston Food Bank and just said, well, we're kind of thinking about, you know, maybe doing some food delivery. And she was just like, yes, can you come this afternoon? Sure. So we essentially sit in the same thing that we use in a hurricane where it's still, again, pretty simple site. If you need food, fill out a form, and if you can help you fill out another form. And what it's doing is we'll have, high-risk senior citizens and immunocompromised folks, so we say on the form. But the reality is anyone can make a request and we'll fill it. But essentially people requesting and saying, Hey, you know, they needed food. And then on the other end, we have a volunteer going to a nearby pantry, picking food up and then delivering it to that person's doorstep. And it's been a month and a day since we started. We have done 22,000 households, for around 200,000-220,000 meals, which is again, it's like that moment after Harvey of like, well did not expect that.


Tommy Rosson:

Absolutely. And you just do it from a spare bedroom.


Matthew Marchetti:

Yeah. Right now, this is now CSRs headquarters. I need my office.


Tommy Rosson:

Tell us a little bit about, I know that there have been churches that have supported you, like Chapelwood. I know Hope City has been very good to you. How is it best for churches to help support what you're doing?


Matthew Marchetti:

Right now we need volunteers, both delivery drivers. Austin needs folks calling some of the senior citizens. And then we also just need more, you know, connections with the local communities. And so it's asking churches for, not only people to help, but then people to go help, you know, particularly, in some of the more rural areas like Montgomery who else, they won't like us saying this, but like Montgomery County, you know, Brazos County...some of these spaces outside of, you know, Houston proper where it's like, I'm trying to just get the word out there. Hey, there is a resource, so putting your members in it and then having your members go deliver food to them, you know, it's essentially one spot that we can use to kind of collate some of these requests. Hope City tried that, but I will warn you, Hope City put a bunch of their members in and I got a call a little bit annoyed from one of the community pastors put our members in and we went to go help them, but they were already delivered to.


It was just like, I'm not going to apologize for that. You know, it's a great problem to have, but the thought is we're all in this together. Each person can do a little bit. We'll have volunteers who are doing like 12 hour days and whatnot, you know, this is their thing now. But then, for the most part, people, you know, if you can volunteer to drive for two or three hours, enough people do that and all of a sudden you've delivered 200,000 meals.


Tommy Rosson:

How do you, I know PPE and taking care of the health issues, how are you kind of protecting not just your drivers but also those that you're serving?


Matthew Marchetti:

Yeah, it's twofold. I mean, one, it's strict social distancing and that was an early lesson, you know, in the first day or two because people wanted to hug the volunteers. You got to tell the volunteers, no you need to tell a little grandma who's very happy that you just delivered out food, you know, keep your distance. And now it's not, I mean everybody kind of gets it where it's like, you know, the social distancing. But beyond that for volunteers. We have about 8,000 surgical masks, a couple of thousand pairs of gloves in the room over. That's where, how the PPE is stored right now. A bunch of hand sanitizers, giving little kits for people to have gloves and masks and we have a whole safety training. The big thing there is just making sure that we're keeping our distance from clients. We're not cross-contaminating the food, but then clients are also hearing on the other end, you know, when you get the food, take it out, wash your hands or you know, move the box inside, wash your hands and then touch the food and put it in your pantry just to double-check things.


Tommy Rosson:

That's great. I mean what y'all can do with a small crowd, how many volunteers are you utilizing roughly right now?


Matthew Marchetti:

I know I have about 1300 ish volunteers. I mean look at the numbers. It's like 80% of them are active cause I'm used to, you know, you have five thousand people show up and only a hundred will do something. But I mean I think it just sort of speaks to the resiliency of our area in particular because we're, you know, came from the church community and are supported by a lot of church community it's just sort of that vibe that a lot of people have they want to go do something.


Tommy Rosson:

That's the fascinating thing. There are so many people from so many churches and so many different backgrounds doing all of this together that it just kind of becomes this big wash of people that are all working together. It's fascinating. I know y'all like to have eight o'clock calls for your volunteers. Those seem to be fun times.


Matthew Marchetti:

Oh yeah. Yeah. We now have a fancy training website. It takes 15 minutes. Crowdsourcerescue.com/training/coping. But yeah, we used to have these hour-long Zoom calls. The first one we did was actually on Google Hangouts, which has a limit of 50 people. And we had to cancel it cause I couldn't get on cause there was too many people on the call or is 50 or just some limit. But we busted through the limit. So we had to switch to Zoom, which I think as a limit of a hundred people.


Tommy Rosson:

So you had to quickly leave those platforms.


Matthew Marchetti:

Yeah. If we have to get the next one up then we might be calling some folks and ask them for money. Cause I think it's like 250 bucks a month or something like that. But we try to make it pretty easy on the driving side. I mean just kinda in and out. The reality is just speaking honestly like we'll get a bunch of volunteers during a disaster. Well, let's be honest. It's cause it's really fun. It's sexy. You're, you know, running around in boats and playing with chainsaws and jumping out of helicopters and stuff. This is not sexy. You're driving around for hours on end in Houston delivering to addresses to people that you can't hug. You can't, you know, really talk to or get close or nearby. But it's just some of the most impactful work that I've certainly ever been a part of. And so you know that our region keeps coming out and keeps volunteering is nothing short of amazing.


Tommy Rosson:

It is amazing. I'm very thankful to live here in a place where that's part of our community. Well Matthew, thank you.


Matthew Marchetti:

No, no. Well, I think just runs deep in us, honestly. I think Harvey, but before that Ike, and before that, what was it? Gustaf and I mean I think it's just something in the region where we've gone through a lot. And so just the natural responses, well let's not sit around, let's go do something.


Tommy Rosson:

It's great. Well, thank you for joining us today. Anything else you want to add?


Matthew Marchetti:

Crowdsourcerescue.com/covid got to plug the website. If you can help sign up there, if you have members, you can also sign up there, make it a really easy, big red button if you need help. Big green button if you can help,


Tommy Rosson:

That's awesome. Yeah, we'll make sure that the website is on all the social media and on our website. And all that kind of stuff so people can get there really easy. Church leaders, if you want more resources like this, you can go to Houstonresponse.org/covid-19 their website is there as well. Thanks for joining us today.


Additional COVID-19 resources for congregations available here.

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