Petey DiCianni delivers groceries to his neighbor in Point Dume, Malibu on March 18.
Photos courtesy of Petey DiCianni
Short for Self-Quarantined Delivery, SQD, Ink. provides a free grocery delivery service to elderly people or individuals with immunodeficiencies who need to self-quarantine because of COVID-19. Senior Petey DiCianni founded the organization March 20 and has since grown it to over 80 college student volunteers with communities in Malibu, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Denver and Indianapolis.
“Students are constantly finding new ways to be productive with their time,” DiCianni said. “Now that everyone is stuck inside, we’re trying to give students a new way to give back to the community, build their resume and do good for their elders.”
How it Works
The SQD, Ink. website allows interested volunteers to sign up for roles as grocery shoppers, social media coordinators or — if outside an active SQD, Ink. city — squad leaders. DiCianni said volunteers are required to not be in contact with high-risk people or be immunocompromised themselves.
Individuals who are over the age of 60, immunocompromised or displaying symptoms of COVID-19 can place a request for either a one-time or once-a-week grocery order. Squad leaders are then responsible for connecting those in need with volunteers. Clients pay volunteers for the cost of their groceries upon receiving them with cash or Venmo.
DiCianni said he attributes the nonprofit’s rapid growth to the power of social media and passionate individuals who leverage their personal networks.
“In Denver, we just had a girl start a squad maybe four days ago, DiCianni said. “She advertised it in her area on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. She has a squad of 12 people now.”
The nonprofit accepts donations, which fund the startup costs and provide a safety net in the event that a client does not repay a shopper for the cost of the groceries.
Origins of SQD, Ink.
A Point Dume resident, DiCianni said he was inspired to start SQD, Ink. after independently doing a few grocery runs for the elderly in his community. He noticed a discrepancy in fear of the virus between his college-age peers and his older neighbors.
“[As college students,] we’re bored and we want to be outside doing stuff,” DiCianni said. “So if we can just turn us being rebellious into a good thing where we spend our time volunteering and giving back, I think we are killing two birds with one stone.”
DiCianni recruited other Pepperdine students — Michele Marvin and Nina Hind — to help him do grocery runs. Soon he said he realized it was a scalable business model and connected SQD, Ink. with other cities by the help of his friends.
Marvin, the organization’s director of operations and marketing, said she jumped at the opportunity to join when she first heard about SQD, Ink.
“I thought it was a great way that we can help when we feel like we are helpless right now,” Marvin said. “A lot of jobs and internships are shut down, but I feel like being able to help will keep us on the right track and just looking toward a bigger goal.”
DiCianni said he is collaborating with Pepperdine faculty and professors to grow the nonprofit into a more efficient operation. The current model does not support a foundation that is scalable to every community in every city, he said.
With the help of computer science students, he said he hopes to develop a way to connect volunteers and clients without having a middleman, similar to Uber.
Marvin said she is working with professors to develop a method for background checking volunteers.
For now, DiCianni said he is focusing on the organization’s national expansion.
“We do see opportunities to branch out into different aspects of giving back, but also in a for profit way,” DiCianni said. “So as much as we’re working on SQD, Ink. to help our local communities, we’re also looking into different ideas to venture into career options for our volunteers and for our executive team.”
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