Bronx veteran volunteers to help homebound seniors during COVID-19 pandemic

David Adeyi of Wakefield volunteers during the crisis.
Photo courtesy David Adeyi

Some people have compared the current climate to wartime and one person who can attest to experiencing battle firsthand is Wakefield resident David Adeyi.

Adeyi, 39, a veteran, is helping to serve homebound seniors, who are one of the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past month he has been volunteering with the Manhattan based nonprofit New York Cares.

His story was shared on PBS American Portrait, the network’s 50th anniversary initiative, which invites Americans to share stories from their lives about their families and communities as well as people’s joys, struggles and triumphs. As more Americans upload personal content related to COVID-19 to the site, American Portrait has become a living archive of how people are processing this crisis.

“This has a lot of elements of war,” said Adeyi who served overseas during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005. “While I’m not in health care, this has a feeling of war.”

He grew up in Africa and lived in Minnesota, Houston and Washington, D.C. before settling in the Bronx five years ago. In total, Adeyi served nine years in the National Guard as a reservist.

Adeyi, who has worked for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in Africa, is in the process of obtaining his masters in sustainable development from Harvard University. Being on the front line and seeing the carnage of war, he understands the courage and sacrifice of the medical professionals in hospitals.

 

He told the Bronx Times that when the pandemic arrived, his instincts to help others kicked in.

“Once something happens you want to see how you can be a part of it,” he explained.

Looking for a way to give back, he contacted NY Cares and offered to volunteer. Knowing that elderly people are prone to the virus, especially individuals with underlying conditions, he felt it was imperative to help them.

“They [seniors] are doing their part to stay strong in their fight against COVID-19,” Adeyi said.

The veteran explained he isn’t doing this for the accolades but rather because it’s the right thing to do. He noted that it feels gratifying being able to feed them and make them happy. According to Adeyi, the risk is worth the reward.

“If you don’t step up in that moment, what do you do?” he said.

Adeyi discussed how his past compares to the crisis. In typical wars, the two sides know who the enemy is and how to stop it. However, the coronavirus keeps killing people with no end in sight. Some people want to go return to work, while others wish to stay home. It’s simply a matter of knowing what to do, he shared.

“One of the most important things is to be cautious, but try not to panic,” he said. “It all comes from the mistrust of government. I’m not blaming them, but they need to try to chill out and look at the big picture.”

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