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Groton man sets up coronavirus volunteer corps

Groton – Michael Whitehouse, president-elect of the Groton Rotary Club, is organizing a volunteer corps to help people deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

"It is impossible to know how the COVID-19 situation will unfold, but it is likely that our neighbors will be in need, especially those who are already vulnerable due to health or financial situations,” he wrote on a form that people can fill out to volunteer.

The form is available at bit.ly/rotaryresponse.

Whitehouse said volunteers might deliver food or medicine to people who can’t or shouldn’t go to the store, or call senior citizens who may feel lonelier now that senior centers have closed.

The volunteer corps is “to be in position for whatever, and I keep discovering new needs as I’m talking to more people,” Whitehouse said. He said his thought process was to get the volunteers in place and then figure out where the needs are.

Whitehouse said 85 people have volunteered to help, plus the robotics team at Fitch High School. He noted that many of the students probably don’t have driver’s licenses but can call seniors who are lonely and maybe those connections will continue after the crisis is over.

The people who have expressed interest are primarily in Groton, Whitehouse said, but the corps is not exclusively for Groton and people have also signed upsfrom New London, Uncasville, Jewett City, Ledyard and Pawcatuck.

Whitehouse said he recently returned from president-elect training for the Rotary Club and had lots of ideas about what Rotary could and should be. He said his instinct was, “We should step up, Rotary should step up, this is our moment, this is why we’re here.”

He also set up a form for people who want to request help from the volunteer corps, at bit.ly/rotaryhelp, or they can contact him at 413-218-7946 or rotary@guywhoknowsaguy.com.

Whitehouse said he also raised $420 so far via a Facebook fundraiser, which the Groton Rotary Club will give to Groton Human Services.

“I think in some ways, the best way to prevent panic is to serve,” Whitehouse said. “If you’re thinking about, ‘How can I help others?’ you’re not thinking about, ‘What’s going to happen to me?’”

 

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