Celebrating Sunset Heroes: People who have kept our community strong through the pandemic and beyond.
A year ago, as the health challenges of the pandemic began to make life especially challenging for older adults, two complete strangers Bianca Nandzik and Frank Plughoff immediately swung into action, creating the Sunset Neighborhood Help Group. On March 13, 2020, they started a Facebook group to connect neighbors who weren’t able to leave their homes with neighbors who could assist them with basic needs such as grocery and pharmacy pick-ups.
On the group’s first day, more than 150 volunteers joined the effort. Rather than worrying about their own fears and frustrations, neighbors began to focus on what they could do to help their neighbors. Anticipating that many of those who needed assistance weren’t active online, Bianca’s husband, Stefan Nandzik, created a flyer with a phone helpline. Celia Wu translated the flyer for the Chinese neighbors. Volunteers printed and distributed 30,000 flyers under the direction of Amy Luckey.
Over the year the community grew to over 1,800 members. Janis OMeara,Yasmin D’Mello Staton, Aimee Rozen, Alvin Jen, Jennifer Urbain, Jennifer Lau and Bonnie Kwan became the next generation of driving volunteers that joined the group in the beginning and whose continuing efforts are strengthening this community. Volunteers have also packaged groceries at the food pantry of the First United Presbyterian Church and delivered them to elderly and at-risk neighbors. Over the year, more than 300 Sunset Neighborhood Help Group members like Lily Mok, Mario Jimenez, Kathy Gutgesell, Maria Kristi and Debbie Wong have responded to nearly 1,000 requests for help.
Thank you Sunset Heroes Bianca Nandzik and Frank Plughoff and the many, many other Sunset neighbors who have contributed to this effort.