Fairfax volunteers check in on the vulnerable during shelter-in-place orders

Governor Newsom is calling on Californians to check on each other, entering a tough new month. 

A new hotline has been established, (833) 544-2374, for anyone to call if they need help or comfort during the extended shelter-in-place. 

People who are vulnerable can also call 211 statewide to be connected with local social service agencies. 

"Check on your neighbors, make those phone calls, not just loved ones, check on strangers," said Newsom at his daily briefing. "People ask every day,'what more can I do?'"

In Fairfax, leaders and volunteers are already doing it. 

A one-on-one volunteer matching program rolled out less than two weeks ago, and already has 100 helpers signed up.

They are shopping for groceries, picking up take-out and medication, walking dogs, and simply providing a personal connection to those shut-in. 

"Some of these people don't have access to technology so we want to make sure they have communication with someone, sometimes just by voice, and sometimes it's moral support," said Fairfax Mayor Renee Goddard.

The central Marin County town of 7,500 has canvassed all of its neighborhoods, and left door hangers with a phone number to call.  

Two dozen people have already reached out for a helping hand.  

"They say, 'I got your flyer and it brought tears to my eyes and I'm so grateful," said Fairfax City Council member Stephanie Hellman. 

Hellman has answered many of the calls, often elderly folks without family nearby and frightened. 

"Somebody's trembling on the line, saying 'how did you find me honey, how did you know that I needed help?'". 

Outreach to seniors, the sick, or disabled, will save lives, says Governor Newsom. 

"I don't want to be hearing stories that someone finally knocked on a door and no one answered, and find when they opened that door someone passed away because we didn't meet the moment," warned Newsom. 

In Fairfax Tuesday evening, a couple met their volunteer match for the first time after finding the door hanger and calling.

"I was blown away," said Pamela Meigs, 69, on the porch of the home she shares with Stephen Keese, 78.

"I couldn't believe that there were people ready to help this way because even if we're careful, it's risky to go out."

Volunteer Chance Cutrano, 26, spent about an hour at a nearby grocery store, filling two bags with items the couple requested. 

When he delivered them, he stayed a safe distance away, and their check reimbursing him was tucked into an envelope and left on a porch railing, to avoid contact. 

"Thank you Chance, this is absolutely wonderful," said Meigs, worried because stores won't deliver to their hillside home, and she has no family nearby. 

"Just let me know if you need anything else, you have my number," responded Cutrano.

The ongoing rapport with one person makes the arrangement more personal and more comfortable. 

"You feel safer, you know this person, they're local, so you start to develop a trusting relationship," said Meigs. 

Added Keese, "Any city could do this, even a big city, if they break it down by neighborhood or zip code, street or block."   

Town leaders hope Fairfax will built some bonds that endure long after the pandemic has passed. 

"If we can do a little bit in our community, by doing a little bit extra, why not, why not step up?," said Cutrano.