It’s a typical Sunday in the midst of COVID-19 self-isolation. Though I don’t have the coronavirus, I have taken social distancing to heart and barely left my house over the weekend. So, in between snuggling my pup Shadow Wolf, scrubbing the entire house with Lysol and Clorox, doing all laundry, and restructuring encore’s output from event-based coverage to community-building stories during a crisis, I did what every American was doing while locked inside their homes: scrolled through social media and news headlines.
Facebook had posts popping up left and right from folks encouraging others to “get out and buy local” and “support local restaurants”—words that usually make my heart sing, but, during a pandemic, give me anxiety at the idea of being in crowds. Inevitably, comments revolved around how restaurants were evolving services into curbside pickup and delivery since folks won’t be dining out as much in coming weeks. These are important steps to keep from disseminating the virus. However, they also mean businesses are facing an economic downfall.
Then I came across a post that contained a link for Caring to Deliver—a form asking businesses about their “social distancing specials” or “delivery area/fees,” along with general questions regarding menus and safety precautions employed during the COVID-19 crisis. The email address on it connected to Michele Brouse.
Brouse and her friend, Allison Luckadoo, have known each other for six years. Like me, they were sorting through all the information on social media and texting about the best way to keep it organized and in one place for easy reference while hunkering down over the next two weeks with their kids, who are mandated by Governor Cooper to stay home from school. Their conversation concluded with Bouse—who used to be in nonprofit management—coding a new website: caringtodeliver.com. Their intention is to have a place where local businesses can post current offerings and delivery specials, and keep the public up to date on ensuring safe services for as long as businesses remain open during the COVID-19 crisis.
We interviewed Bouse and Luckadoo about their idea, which in its infancy continues to evolve. They’re hoping to launch the site this week at caringtodeliver.com.
encore (e): So tell us how you came up with Caring to Deliver?
Allison Luckadoo (AL): After going out to eat last night, and waking up to news articles that clearly helped me realize my error, Michele messaged me about whether we should continue to go out. In a matter of minutes, we came up with a safer option. While it isn’t 100% germ proof, our hope is we can help get the word out on deliveries in the area to encourage social distancing, help others stay safe, and help our friends and neighbors who own restaurants.
We have zero interest in profit. My nephew is fighting two terminal illnesses, so this pandemic hits super close to home for me and my family. He is someone who would most likely not survive this.
Michele Brouse (MB): There are too many posts and tweets about local businesses and what they are offering floating around right now. It is hard to decipher and keep it organized to have handy for the next two to four weeks [or longer]. So we thought it would be great to compile all the information on who delivers and what they are offering during this difficult time into one website to assist local businesses and patrons.
e: What are its goals/mission?
MB: The mission is to help provide income, and support local businesses that are remaining open, while giving patrons the ability to still enjoy their favorite establishments and bring new experiences they haven’t tried yet to their door.
e: Who’s participating and what all will be delivered?
MB: The idea is uncharted territory, so right now we have a drop-down menu including restaurants, shopping and retail, food and grocery, and other. I am hoping to expand this menu with the more information we compile, and educate Wilmington on who delivers and what they deliver.
e: Can you specify exactly what businesses have given you feedback and who has filled out your form?
MB: Not enough. We have Beach Bagels, Thoughty, Wrigglesworth Ace Hardware, Hops Supply Co. and Noonie Doodle Sweets so far. We are hoping for more. We are trying to get the word out as much as possible, but I know businesses are trying to figure out protocol and lots of other logistics right now.
e: So the individual businesses cover delivery on their own, and this isn’t just another delivery service like Postmates, Uber, etc., right?
MB: Yes, we are hoping to combine in one place what all the businesses provide. Some don’t normally offer delivery but are now. Some are using extra safety measures and we are asking what those are, too.
I envision the website will have a simple table-like page where patrons can sort by name, business type and delivery area. I will also have a tab where businesses can submit their information and logos.
e: Is this just in response to COVID-19, or what’s your long-term vision?
MB: Originally, this morning [Sunday, March 15] it was a response to COVID-19, but the more Allison and I talked about it, we have a vision of it being used all year round. There are always circumstances where people need delivery services in every aspect of their lives, like if they have surgeries or have illnesses and need meal trains, so I think this information can be helpful all year round.
e: If we go into mandatory quarantine, and the government shuts down restaurants, shops, bars, etc., will you still launch? And what will it look like then?
MB: That is an excellent question! I think we will have to see what happens and launch based on what services can still be legally provided by local businesses—any way we can help!