The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many in the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) community into new routines and responsibilities. For some of our alumni, the challenge of the current climate has inspired them to find new ways to give back and help those in need.
Alumnus Matthew Lombardi ’06 is one of many heroes who has found a way to help those in need during this difficult time.
For the last three years, Lombardi has worked as a management consultant at Deloitte in Toronto. In that time he also worked for a brief period at the United Nations, based in Rome in 2018-19.
The current COVID-19 crisis led Lombardi to come up with a new way to help.
“The idea came to us after speaking with a friend -- an emergency room doctor on the frontlines of COVID-19 – and hearing about how badly oversubscribed the grocery delivery services are,” says Lombardi. “Medical workers were also conscientiously avoiding going inside grocery stores for fear of exposing the public.”
Along with four friends, Lombardi started GroceryHero, a not-for-profit technology platform that matches frontline medical workers with a volunteer grocery shopper in their neighbourhood.
GroceryHero was officially open for business on March 29. In its first week, the organization was promoted online by several prominent public officials including the deputy prime minister of Canada, Ontario health minister, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce ’05, and mayors of Toronto and Ottawa.
As of April 14, GroceryHero has over 3,800 registrations across Canada and has matched over 800 frontline medical workers with volunteer shoppers.
In over 70% of the cases, the matching volunteer and medical worker have been within one kilometer of one another – a true act of neighbourly supply meeting demand.
“The project has been challenging, but it also has been very rewarding to run this in our spare time,” says Lombardi. “It gives us an opportunity to have a positive outlet regarding COVID-19 and make an impact in our communities while helping others do the same. We’ve been overwhelmed by peoples’ response to this across the country. Never underestimate the generosity of spirit of Canadians from coast-to-coast.”
“Giving back is something that has always been important to all of us involved with GroceryHero. My time at St. Michael’s was certainly influential in shaping me into that person.”
Those who may be interested in volunteering, or in need of GroceryHero services, can find more information at getgroceryhero.com.