Throughout this pandemic, the demands and responsibilities people are facing make it easy to develop tunnel vision. As a result, the most vulnerable in our society can be overlooked and fall between the cracks. Seniors are a prime example, especially when they live alone.
Determined to alter that scenario, three Brophy College Preparatory alumni decided to come to the rescue. Patrick Wintergalen, Christian Leber and Jackson Chiao may not wear capes, but they are local heroes to the people they help each week.
They call themselves the Bronco Neighbors, named after the Brophy Prep mascot. The trio shop for food, medicine and necessities for seniors or anyone who is immunocompromised and at-risk by being outside their home.
“We don’t charge for our services, and typically people just give us their credit cards or cash,” Wintergalen, who started the group, said.
“Bronco Neighbors is something we are all very proud of,” Chiao said, “and we hope that we are positively impacting our community during these difficult times. Not all people are impacted equally by COVID-19, so we are trying to be a resource to help those who experience greater risk than others. I am delighted to help those in need and fortunate to be doing it alongside my friends.”
The genesis for Bronco Neighbors began when Wintergalen shopped for his grandparents during his summer break. He soon realized that other seniors in the area live alone and may not have that luxury.
Empathizing with their plight, he decided to become an intermediary and assist them with their shopping needs. He quickly enrolled his friends Leber and Chiao into his mission, and they were both enthusiastic about providing this much-needed service to the community.
“We began by talking to people at Paradise Valley United Methodist Church and Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Scottsdale,” Wintergalen said. “We asked them for the names of elderly people in their church who could use our help shopping.”
The three friends also started collecting clothes and toiletries for Andre House of Arizona, which ministers to the homeless and underprivileged.
“I’m very grateful to Bronco Neighbors for their support during the pandemic,” recipient Karen Bloch said. “With health issues that make us particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the caring and professional service helps limit my family’s exposure. On several occasions, Patrick has gone the extra mile, searching for hard-to-find items and delivering them to our front door. With so many concerns in the world, it’s heartwarming that Bronco Neighbors takes the time to assist others.”
Wintergalen is a pre-med student at Southern Methodist University in Texas and is majoring in history and biology. Chiao attends Seattle University and is pursuing a double major in finance and accounting. He plans to be an accountant or consultant. Leber attends University of Arizona and majors in physiology and business, as well as pre-med.
For more: visit Bronco Neighbors COVID-19 Outreach on Facebook.