James Mandle was frustrated and a bit worried about his 97-year-old mother and the distance between them didn’t make matters better.
Mandle lives nearly 500 miles away in northern California. His mom, Simone, lives alone in her Encinitas condo. Mandle's sister, who also lives in Encinitas, usually checks in on their mom, but she’s stuck in a COVID-19 lockdown in a small town in France and can’t get home.
Mandle is also stuck. He wants to abide by the state’s shelter-in-place order to stop the spread of COVID-19, but he also wants to take care of his mom.
He began trying to do it long-distance when his mom needed a prescription filled. The pharmacy wouldn’t take his payment over the phone, so he had to find a taxi driver willing to pay for the prescription until after he made the delivery. It was a huge hassle, so was grocery delivery.
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That’s when his mom told Mandle about a flyer on her mailbox. It was from a group of volunteers who call themselves Corona Relief San Diego, “a team of neighbors at your service, ready to deliver the goods.”
Mandle called them and now has peace of mind.
“They have been incredible in terms of figuring out what my mom’s needs were and getting the groceries the same day she needs them,” Mandle told NBC 7.
NBC 7 went along as volunteer Mali Woods-Drake shopped for and delivered Simone’s groceries. She wore a mask and gloves at the grocery store and changed into a clean pair of gloves before making her delivery.
“We’re making sure that we stay safe because although the elderly and the immune-compromised are most at risk, what we’re finding is really everyone is at risk. We want to be able to help the people that most need it,” Woods-Drake said. “We also want to make sure that we’re maintaining safety and what we’re bringing to them is not in any way compromised.”
Mandle said his family can now concentrate on calling and emailing Simone, a former prima ballerina from France who knows a lot about survival in times of crisis.
“She’s been through four years of Nazi occupation in France during World War II, so this is probably a cakewalk for her,” said Mandle, who called his mom "a tough nut.”
California and San Diego County leaders have been reminding the public to check up on our elders. Whether they’re sheltering at home or in board and care facilities, where all visits have been canceled until the threat of the coronavirus is over.
For more information on the Corona Relief San Diego, you can call (619) 800-1892 or email CoronaReliefSD2020@gmail.com