NorthStar Neighbor, a new nonprofit organization, was launched today matching volunteers with seniors or those at high risk of COVID-19 who need remote companionship and conversation and help with the delivery of food or prescriptions.

The program matches healthy, low-risk Minnesotans who are under 60 with a senior in their community who is 60 or older or otherwise high-risk. Once the connection is made, the matched individuals take complete ownership of the process and their relationship, but the volunteer is encouraged to talk via phone or electronic means on a regular basis with his or her match and inquire about needed deliveries of supplies, food or prescriptions.

The initiative was founded by a group of volunteers and is not part of any government program.  Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, is leading the effort.

“Minnesotans are generous and caring and we all want to find a way to help someone else right now,” Johnson said.  “I have no doubt we will see an outpouring of those who want to volunteer – the challenge will be finding those who are isolated and disconnected and need a little companionship or help.”

“There are many amazing nonprofit organizations and churches that are providing services similar to this to people in their networks.  We’re hoping to find those seniors or at-risk people who don’t have an existing network and just need a friend right now.”

Anyone wanting to volunteer or needing a match can apply at www.NorthStarNeighbor.com or by calling 612-430-8899.

“This program is a two-way street,” Johnson added.  “Those who volunteer are providing a gift to someone in need, but it’s important to recognize that those who are receiving help are also providing a gift to someone who desperately wants to help a fellow Minnesotan in this time of social isolation.”

For more information or interview requests, please contact Jeff Johnson directly at 612-708-4804 or [email protected].