Former EHS Roommates Build Out National Covid-19 Nonprofit

Elle Wilson ’13 and Miller Winston ’13, roommates as freshmen at EHS, are together again working on an important mission: making it safe and easy for volunteers to help those in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

While the two live on opposite coasts — Elle in San Francisco, Miller in New York — both were part of the founding team at Perfect Strangers, a new nonprofit launched at the end of April in six regions nationwide. The group is running an on-demand, volunteer-based delivery service to bring groceries, prescriptions, and other essential items to the elderly, immunocompromised, and other at-risk populations homebound due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Wilson, a healthcare consultant with Deloitte, is a co-founder of the group; Winston, who works full time in crisis communications, handles its public relations and communications.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Wilson traveled from her home in San Francisco four days a week for work. On March 19, when San Francisco became one of the first cities in the country to impose a stay-at-home order, her travel stopped abruptly, and she decided to invest more time in San Francisco’s battle with Covid-19. But she found that she couldn’t fit typical community service options, such as volunteering at local food banks, into her daily work schedule.

Wilson and her Perfect Strangers co-founder, Mimi Aboubaker, recognized the need to connect people with more on-demand volunteer opportunities. “That’s when we had the idea to bring the gig economy to volunteering,” she says.

Perfect Strangers started by providing one-off deliveries, and as it has grown, the group has partnered with restaurants, federally funded programs, and food banks to connect volunteers with organizations that need their help. Volunteers at Perfect Strangers sign up to provide a number of services, including contact-free deliveries, social media and graphic design work, and customer service. Communications about delivery needs go out through the organization’s Slack channels.

Wilson noted that traditional nonprofits were having a difficult time reaching younger volunteers. In the organization's early days, she asked her EHS friend, Miller Winston, to help create a more robust communications and outreach plan to reach the group’s target volunteer base. Working with Perfect Strangers, Winston says, has “given me the opportunity to give back in a way that works with my skills.” As the primary communications officer for the organization, she writes press releases and partnership announcements and orchestrates strategic outreach to potential new volunteers.

Now providing over 4,000 deliveries per week in cities including Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C., Perfect Strangers plans to continue to grow by forming new relationships with partner organizations and other nonprofits. Visit the group’s website to learn more and to get involved.