Anne R. Titelbaum, PhD (Far Right), and Arana Wolin (Far Left) Gathering Food for COVID-19 Relief for Homeless Seniors
Anne R. Titelbaum, PhD (Far Right), and Arana Wolin (Far Left) Gathering Food for COVID-19 Relief for Homeless Seniors

UA College of Medicine – Phoenix Faculty Member Helps Local Restaurants and Homeless Seniors During COVID-19

Lindsay Roberts
Lindsay Roberts
Anne R. Titelbaum, PhD (Far Right), and Arana Wolin (Far Left) Gathering Food for COVID-19 Relief for Homeless Seniors
Anne R. Titelbaum, PhD (Far Right), and Arana Wolin (Far Left) Gathering Food for COVID-19 Relief for Homeless Seniors
Labor of Love between Two Friends Sparks Generosity

A project started by a University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix faculty member and a longtime friend shows all it takes is a good idea and some effort to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anne R. Titelbaum, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Arana Wolin, who works in data management, are helping not only those in need of food during the COVID-19 pandemic, but local family-owned restaurants, many of whom are struggling to stay open.

The idea came from a crowd-funded organization, The Krewe of Red Beans in New Orleans. The organization raises money to provide meals for emergency room personnel working on the front lines of the pandemic, while supporting local restaurants.

“I read about this and thought that would be a great thing to do here,” Dr. Titelbaum said. She suggested the idea to Wolin, who immediately jumped on board.

Dr. Titelbaum Picks up Food from a Local Restaurant Owner
Dr. Titelbaum Picks up Food from a Local Restaurant Owner
When the two were first discussing the idea, they decided that homeless people in need of food would be the best target.

“We thought that while ER personnel are on the front lines and absolutely need support during this time, the need seemed to be greater for the homeless population, since the number of donations and volunteers has declined during the COVID-19 lockdown,” Dr. Titelbaum said.

Through a personal connection of Wolin’s, the two came to partner with the Justa Center, a day resource center for seniors 55 and older who are homeless in the metro Phoenix area. Located in downtown Phoenix, the center provides meals and helps seniors get back on their feet with housing and job assistance.

The center has the greatest need for meals on weekends when about 150 people showing up at the center.

“We’ve been able to supply over 500 meals so far. We’ve been doing this for about four weeks, and we’ve been off to a good start in terms of crowd funding,” said Dr. Titelbaum.

On March 26, they created the Krewe of Hope Facebook Group and began collecting donations. Soon after, their friend Ian Sargent set up the Krewe of Hope on other social platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.

So far, they have worked with local restaurants including the Tamale Store, Uberritos, Frank’s New York Style Market and Deli and Cocina Madrigal.

“It’s a fantastic way to do two goods with one donation,” Wolin said. “The initial good is for supporting a local restaurant, and the second is that all of the food that we are able to purchase for them goes directly to homeless seniors.”

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated 593 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,400 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.