Healy Chait, Liam Elkind, and Simone Policano founded a nonprofit, Invisible Hands, in March 2020, while New York City was struggling to combat the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. With the help of thousands of healthy, neighborhood volunteers, Invisible Hands provides contactless delivery of groceries, medicine, and other necessities to their communities’ most vulnerable, especially those at high-risk for contracting a serious case of Covid-19. Their efforts have bridged the gap between generations, brought neighbors together during a challenging time, and fought the dual problems of food insecurity and social isolation that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
The catalyst for Invisible Hands was an early March social media post by Policano, who was looking for a way to volunteer to shop for the elderly and immunocompromised in her area. Finding no organization to meet this need, she teamed up with friends, Elkind and Chait. Together, the three 20-somethings quickly formed Invisible Hands, spending less than $10 to create a website to take grocery delivery orders. In just one week, they recruited 5,000 volunteers and raised $20,000 to support their mutual aid effort. Five months later, Invisible Hands had amassed more than 10,000 volunteers and completed thousands of deliveries to those in need—amounting to more than $1 million in food, medicine, and other necessities. The group has also grown to include other cities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in its service area, providing not only critical supplies, but social connectedness and a sense of community.
As the number of Covid-19 cases decreased in some cities, Invisible Hands expanded operations to address the larger problem facing low-income neighborhoods: access to healthy, nutritious food. The organization now teams up with local nonprofits, food pantries, churches, and synagogues to provide groceries for those who cannot afford them. Invisible Hands connects the individual in need with a community group that can supply the food for free and provides volunteers to deliver the food. This service helps educate people about what resources are available in their communities and assists those unable to make the trip to their local food bank.
Chait, Elkind, and Policano are all based in New York. Chait is a student at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Elkind is a student at Yale University, studying ethics, politics, economics, and global affairs, and is taking a semester off to focus on Invisible Hands. Policano graduated from Yale University, and she now works as an actor and producer in New York City.
In 2020, Chait, Elkind, Policano, and Invisible Hands were recognized with a Manhattan Institute Civil Society Award.
Learn more about their work at Invisible Hands at www.invisiblehandsdeliver.org.