At the beginning of the pandemic, I found myself quarantined in my apartment off Wheelock Avenue feeling a striking sense of helplessness. I was fortunate to be young and healthy and felt compelled to do something, but the nonprofits I reached out to were all too overwhelmed with operational needs to even onboard volunteers.
Having worked on healthy aging policies prior to Tuck, I frequently thought about our many Upper Valley neighbors who would be hard-pressed to find alternative means for getting food and other essentials. The rural backdrop that drew so many of us here, began to pose a unique threat for many during the outbreak.
I recalibrated, recognizing that searching for the perfect outlet wasn’t a good use of time when people needed support today—and that helping even one or two people would make a difference in those individuals’ lives. The next time I went to the grocery store, I scribbled down my name, number, and a short message offering free shopping and deliveries for anyone in a high-risk category looking for help.
Nobody called me the first week, then only two people called the second week. By week three, we were up to more than 25 trips. I quickly turned to my Tuck classmates for support and they stepped up in droves, without hesitation. Hanover Helpers was born.
Since then, the Tuck community has completed nearly 1,000 shopping trips, bringing groceries and other items to Upper Valley neighbors in need. And while some of the deliveries are critical, the Hanover Helpers team decided not to limit deliveries to the essentials. During this difficult time, we saw value in helping to bring joy and some sense of normalcy to those who needed it the most. We have made trips to the pet store for special dog food, stopped at the Coop for fresh berries from Edgewater Farm, bought flowers from Garden Supply, swung by Ace Hardware to replace watch batteries, and picked up wine from NH Liquor Outlet so that residents could celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with loved ones.
Natalie with husband Warren King T’21 shopping for Hanover Helpers this summer.
More than 120 Tuckies and Tuck Partners have stepped up since last March to contribute to, and champion, this effort. Christian Haudenschild TP’20 spent many late nights building a website from scratch to coordinate the pipeline of requests coming in for deliveries. Emily Maine, Alex Wood, and Megan Tervo T’20s joined forces to help manage the initiative and have since handed off duties to Dennis Gallagher T’21, Tyrus House T’21, and Paul Hildebrand TP’21.
This fall, many volunteers have opted into a buddy program, where they have paired up with a local senior who they shop for regularly. Students have built virtual relationships with their buddies—many of whom have their own connections to Tuck. During a time of unrest, uncertainty, and isolation, Hanover Helpers has played a small role in strengthening and bringing together our Upper Valley community.
We are always looking for new volunteers, especially as rates increase and many of our volunteers leave the Upper Valley for the holidays. Those interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have treasured the service Tuck students have provided to those of us in our 80s and 90s and cautioned not to shop for ourselves because of COVID-19. It has enabled us safely to obtain groceries, pharmaceuticals, and liquor through the volunteer efforts of these students. A second gift we only learned about in the midst of their service was the way they turned whatever financial tips they received into donations to The Haven, one of the Upper Valley’s most valued services to the homeless and those living on the margins. The Hanover Helpers is a sign of the willingness of these graduate students to give generously of their time and energy to meet the needs of people who are the most vulnerable to this virus. Many thanks!”
—Stew Wood, NH resident
“One of the most positive experiences during the pandemic for me has been helping an older couple in the community by buying and delivering their weekly groceries. We’ve built a great relationship and it’s gratifying to be able to help out the community in such a tangible and personal way.”
— Paul Hildebrand TP’21, co-leader, Hanover Helpers
"When I arrived at Tuck, I knew that I wanted to find a way to get involved in the community. We are all so lucky to have the opportunity to be students here, that I feel like we have a responsibility to give back in some way. The T20s did such a great job standing up the Hanover Helpers organization, and I was happy to be able to help out by doing a few trips a week to help some of the at-risk residents with their groceries. I’ve had a chance to deliver to several Kendal residents and get to know them over the phone when I call to ask questions. I have also been able to build up a friendship with my ‘buddy’ Barbara since I started delivering to her in the spring. Over the summer when some of the restrictions were looser, we stayed in touch via text even though I wasn’t delivering every week. She would check in from time to time to say hello, which I always enjoyed seeing during my internship! Hanover Helpers has been a big part of my Tuck experience and one of the few bright spots of our time in quarantine. It has been so nice to find a way to give back to the community in a simple, but meaningful way.”
—Dennis Gallagher T’21, co-leader, Hanover Helpers
“Prior to Hanover Helpers it was difficult to get the ingredients I like to have on hand in the freezer and in our cupboards. The communication with Hanover Helpers was seamless. Each of the students who worked with us early on provided quick and accurate information and asked good questions. The buddy system definitely increased the level of service. Dennis [Gallagher] is incredibly easy to work with and was wonderful about texting from the Coop and sending pictures if he had questions about a specific product. It was also really convenient to know we could coordinate our schedules for delivery. He is great about letting me know when he will be available.”
—Barbara Freedman, NH resident
“My name is Jan, and I Iive at Kendal at Hanover and am 82. These past 10 months have been a very stressful time for those of us who are older—the COVID-19 crisis has affected us all. However, there have been so many bright spots and so many blessings. One of those is Hanover Helpers. This group of people not only saw a need, but they also stepped up to fill it. It is such a comfort to know that throughout all, they have stepped up each week without fail to do the shopping we can no longer do in person. They are prompt and efficient but also cheery and caring.”
—Jan Chapman, NH resident
Natalie (Triedman) King T'20 received her dual degree from Tuck and the Harvard Kennedy School in 2020. She was the 2020 recipient of Tuck’s Centennial Student Award for outstanding leadership, selflessness, and community involvement. She has spent her career working to improve health policy and healthcare delivery for seniors and other high-risk populations within the nonprofit, government, and private sector.