Volunteer Spotlight: Clifford


Q&A with Clifford

In March 2020, Shanti launched our COVID-19 Emergency Response Volunteer Program (CERV) to provide emergency support to our neighbors across the city most affected by the pandemic. With COVID-related restrictions easing in San Francisco, Shanti’s CERV program has sunsetted. This interview was conducted with Clifford when CERV was still operational.

CERV volunteers provided both one-time and ongoing, weekly support to older adults and adults living with illnesses or disabilities who were advised to limit their outdoor exposure. Support included grocery shopping and delivery; medication delivery; essential tasks; dog walking; and mail pickup. Shanti CERV volunteers also provided support to San Franciscans diagnosed with or exposed to COVID who needed emergency assistance to maintain quarantine. For each of these households, a CERV volunteer provided a grocery run (shopping and contactless delivery) to ensure they had food and necessities. In total, CERV volunteers supported 2,225 individuals.

Where are you from and when did you come to the Bay Area?  What do you do now and what are your passions?

My name is Clifford. I was born in China and came to the Bay Area several years ago for education. I plan to apply to medical schools, and I am studying for MCAT now. I enjoy reading a lot, especially mystery and detective stories. I swam frequently before the pandemic, and I got into biking and yoga this past year.

How did you learn of CERV/Shanti and what inspired you to become a volunteer?

I already translated some Shanti documents through my college interpretation club. I learned about CERV through the Mon Ami platform. I was a Mon Ami senior companion and joined CERV when the pandemic started. I decided to become a volunteer because I continued to work and volunteer during the pandemic, so I had a first-hand impression of how the pandemic negatively impacted people’s lives. I would like to do something to give back to the community, and CERV is the perfect opportunity.

How does being a CERV Volunteer impact your life?

Being a CERV volunteer allows me to give back to the community, and it shows me how the community could come together in times of difficulty to help each other out, which is just incredible. CERV connects me with people, which helps me ease a lot of my own feeling of isolation during the pandemic.

What do you do outside of being a volunteer with Shanti?

During the pandemic, I worked as an EMT to treat and transport patients included COVID patients. I also volunteered at several COVID testing sites. When vaccines became available, I started to help with SF’s vaccination effort.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

After I made grocery deliveries to my client for several weeks, my client told me that he has shared the food I brought to him with several households in the neighborhood affected by the COVID. On the surface, I am only helping this one client, but in fact, I am able to reach and help much more than just one person. It teaches me how far an act of kindness could go, and it brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it.

Community work like Clifford’s and Shanti is so necessary, especially during this difficult and isolating time. As we have known all of these years, human connection is powerful and healing. Shanti expresses our heartfelt gratitude to Clifford and all 600 CERV volunteers!

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