2019 Truscott Rossman Communications Intern Chanel Taylor founds collective to provide more than 500,000 meals to families in need during COVID-19 pandemic.
The global pandemic has caused fear, anxiety and uncertainty for many of us as our daily routines were dismantled. While most people were begrudgingly tucked away in their homes, Chanel Taylor, a recent Detroit-based TR intern, found a way to help her community. A few months after her college graduation, Chanel went from intern to community trailblazer and founder of a multi-tiered organization.
As COVID-19 cases in Michigan began to rise at an alarming rate, Chanel recognized the increased health risk for senior citizens. She began personally collecting shopping lists of groceries, prescription medicine and cleaning supplies from nearby seniors to help get them what they needed.
“Most seniors didn’t know how to place orders online or even have access to the internet,” said Chanel. “There was also no option for individuals to use EBT cards online, leaving a lot of people at a disadvantage and even more vulnerable during the pandemic.”
Chanel quickly found out that many of the elderly were also in need of financial assistance to purchase their essential needs. So, she began seeking donations from the community. King Solomon Baptist Church, along with a group of her college friends chipped in to collect goods and the effort took off.
As word of the program spread, WXYZ-TV featured Chanel and local volunteers. The segment garnered more than 400 calls from additional seniors in need of shopping assistance and donations.
“It started as mostly college students volunteering but became a collective of amazing community groups pooling their resources together for the greater good,” Chanel continued.
The simple delivery system grew into a daily production line with dozens of volunteers operating throughout Metro Detroit. Chanel gained the support of 12 national organizations, including the National Action Network, World Central Kitchen and LaGrasso Bros. Produce, along with 20 other community partners. The organization received a $46,000 grant from United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund to continue their efforts.
With more resources, the collective was able to extend its services to all ages. They also began to provide care packages, frozen meals for pickup and even free virtual therapy sessions from volunteer mental health professionals.
Expansion led to an increased need for staff support. Detroit At Work helped 12 returning citizens receive part-time employment through the organization.
What started as a personal effort exploded into Chanel successfully managing a full staff, call center, partnerships and dozens of volunteers, all while serving 50,000 meals on a weekly basis since April.
“I thought this initiative would be a couple of weeks, but it’s turned into several months,” continued Chanel. “We were steadily helping about 300 seniors but that quickly tripled in the span of days.”
“Hunger didn’t start from COVID-19, and it won’t be over after COVID-19. Poverty is a current and pressing issue in the city of Detroit and we’re going to keep doing the work to help alleviate it,” added Chanel.
Food and care packages can be picked up from King Solomon Baptist Church located at 6100 14th St. Detroit, MI 48208 Mon-Saturday from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Chanel’s selfless act of service was able to impact thousands of people during an unprecedented crisis. This fall, she will begin law school at the University of Detroit Mercy.
“Anybody lucky enough to work with Chanel sees from the start that she has a huge heart matched only by the size of her strategic and tactical chops,” said Ron Fournier, president of Truscott Rossman. “I’m not surprised one iota that she’s doing good work in a great way.”