AUSTIN, Texas - A group of tech-experts have launched a website connecting the elderly and immunocompromised with volunteers to run errands for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The website is called “Helping Hands.” It was founded by Jeff Miller, a former Uber executive and Pedram Keyani, who served as the director of engineering at both Uber and Facebook.
When first launching the project, Miller and Keyani put out a call to the tech industry, asking experts to use their talents to help. Austin brothers, Neil Patil, a software engineer and recent UT Austin graduate and high school junior Yash Patil responded. The Patils helped build the tech-stack, and are continuing to monitor and grow the site.
“We felt this was a way to apply our skills towards legitimately helping people,” said Neil Patil.
The website enables the elderly and immunocompromised to request needed items and services. The Patils say the most common are grocery stores, food banks and pharmacy runs. Dog walking is also a popular request.
Once a request is submitted, volunteers in the area are able to view it online through “Helping Hands” technology and can respond.
If there are no volunteers within a 50-mile radius of a request, the “Helping Hands” operations team contacts the requestor, then recruits volunteers.
The site is straight forward, designed to target an older demographic who may not be as comfortable with technology.
“We only ask for simple fields you know ‘what do you need’ ‘where do you live’ and ‘how can we contact you,'” Yash Patil explained.
The Patil’s say the non-profits current goal is to partner with other nonprofits, who serve people who could benefit from the technology.
“That need (at other non-profits) is great. And right now, that need is being filled by a combination of spreadsheets, phone calls and emails -- and while that works at a certain size beyond certain point, you really need to have some sort of technology or software helping you and that’s really the role that we want to fill,” explained Neil Patil.
If you need help, want to sign up for someone who needs help or, if you want to volunteer, or partner with the non-profit you can learn more on their website.
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