Difference Makers: South Bay Teens Create Friendship Network For Seniors

Teen founders of COVID Networks

A group of South Bay teens have created a free online service to help seniors find a friend during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s called COVID Networks and their mission is to connect young people with senior citizens through video chat and phone calls.

The volunteer organization is run by Cupertino High School students Sivansh Chitti, Alex Wang, Pranav Eranki and Lawrence Fan. They prepare fun activities such as yoga exercises, one-on-one discussions and music performances that are meant to ease loneliness for those who can’t leave their homes.

"We thought that this was a great way we could help. Many high school students are sitting at home with a lot of time on their hands, so we thought this was a way to connect them with seniors to help give them someone to talk to," Wang said.

The pandemic has been especially difficult for seniors due to the nature of the virus and the strict quarantine measures in place. As a result, many seniors are suffering from social isolation and depression.

"Many of us know grandparents in senior living communities who told us they were feeling lonely or isolated because they weren’t able to receive physical visits and they didn’t have any family who were contacting them virtually," Wang said.

Volunteers are paired with seniors based on similar interests, hobbies and ideas in an effort to ensure a fruitful discussion.

"We also set up a time for both parties to join a Zoom call or a phone call," Fan explained.

COVID Networks has partnered with dozens of senior centers across the Bay Area and is planning to expand their efforts along the West Coast and in Texas.

"We know that this is obviously not a problem that is limited to the Bay Area. It’s something that’s happening across the world, so we just hope to be able to expand our platform to help more people," Wang said.​

To learn more, visit covidnetworks.org.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Radio Difference Maker, email us here.