Austintown woman steps up for at-risk residents
April 1, 2020


Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Austintown resident and clinical counselor Sarah Thompson is doing her part to help at-risk populations.

She's organizing volunteer shoppers to bring groceries to elderly and immuno-compromised neighbors who should not or cannot leave their houses.

A volunteer sign-up on Thompson's website,, lists time slots where people who are already going to the grocery store can volunteer to pick up additional items for high-risk populations. She said the health department approves of the volunteer program, which keeps the number of people in stores low and limits exposure for vulnerable populations.

Gov. Mike DeWine recently called for the closure of all non-essential businesses and Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton issued a "stay at home" order to keep people from spreading the coronavirus, COVID-19. The order does not close grocery stores or prohibit grocery shopping.

"I think it's common sense what they're asking us to do," Thompson said. "I think so much is reliant on human behavior, and how we respond is really going to determine how bad this gets."

Thompson's program asks volunteers to drop food off outside people's homes to limit exposure. She has a few volunteers serving the Boardman, Poland, Mineral Ridge, Austintown and Canfield areas, but she said she would like to expand the program and bring on more volunteers if the need increases. Volunteers do not have to pay for the groceries they deliver. Interested parties can sign up on Thompson's website.

Those 65 or older or who have compromised immune systems and are in need of the service can contact Thompson at 330-349-5075 or by e-mail at

Thompson, who said she has always been passionate about serving the elderly population, said she got the idea for the volunteer program when she saw older people struggling to shop at picked-over grocery stores. She said similar programs have taken off in larger cities such as New York and Chicago.

Thompson said the elderly and vulnerable are "kind of at our mercy" now that it is unsafe for them to leave their homes.

Previously an administrator at Austinwoods and Hampton Woods senior living facilities, Thompson said she has the "utmost respect" for the elderly: "They are the bones to our society. I think they're undervalued, and we have so much to learn from them."


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