67ºF

Site created to help rescue people during Hurricane Harvey now pivots to delivering food amid coronavirus crisis

HOUSTON – A local non-profit organization is changing things around and using their service to help the most vulnerable groups of people during the coronavirus outbreak in the greater Houston area.

Matthew Marchetti is no stranger to boats and high water. KPRC 2 first met Marchetti during Hurricane Harvey.

"Since Harvey, we've done 23 disasters since. We've helped rescue about 50,000 people," Marchetti said.

Marchetti is the co-founder of non-profit CrowdSource Rescue, a local non-profit disaster response team operating services through a website, to help save lives during hurricanes and natural disasters.

"It's almost like an Uber or Lyft for rescues," Marchetti said.

Coronavirus is unchartered territory, but Marchetti decided to work with what he knew in order to help his community, the best that he knew how.

“I think Houston is innovative and we’re smart and I think we can out-think this virus,” Marchetti said.

This week Marchetti, who happens to be a software developer working from home due to the virus, has added a new service to the website.

Instead of rescue boats, Marchetti is focusing on organizing food deliveries from the Houston Food Bank. His method for deliveries is similar to how he organized hurricane rescues.

“[Marchetti] approached us to help us with a very significant need,” said Brian Greene, CEO and President of the Houston Food Bank. “Normally we work with partners, and those family go to those partners to receive food. But, if those families cannot go out, especially seniors for safety reasons, the ability to use crowdsourcing to do home deliveries is a very attractive option for us.

“We’re trying to connect help with neighbors who could give it,” Marchetti said.

With the click of a few buttons, on the CrowdSource Rescue website, the non-profit now aims to help the elderly and immunocompromised people in the greater Houston area. People who need help or want to help can fill out a form on the site and volunteers then get directions to pick up food and deliver it in a safe, clean and “socially distant” way.

“We’re trying to encourage — particularly the high-risk people — don’t go out of your house,” Marchetti said.

After just one day of calling for volunteers, Marchetti said 150 volunteers answered the call to be ready to deliver.

Volunteers like Holly Hartman, a long-time helper of CrowdSource Rescue, said this is what makes this city strong.

"If I can go help people here who might not have family and friends here... then I absolutely should," Hartman said.

She said they are proud to help find solutions.

“Dark and scary times right now, but that doesn’t mean that people still don’t love [the elderly and most vulnerable]." Marchetti said. “It doesn’t mean that there’s still not hope. There’s a lot of people that love you and want to take care of you.”

Deliveries and requests for deliveries can be made through the website starting Thursday, March 19.