Help wanted: Teen concierges

Neel Jain runs PDX Concierge, bringing groceries to anyone who is elderly, immunocompromised or otherwise affected by COVID-19 (Submitted).

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools across the state, 16-year old Westview High sophomore Neel Jain knew that he wanted to spend his extra time helping those who were vulnerable in his community.

He started by going grocery shopping for his grandmother, who has asthma, and is more vulnerable to COVID-19 and other infections. 

“I was happy to help my grandma, but that made me realize that there are others out there who don’t have that kind of support. So with school being closed, I decided that I wanted to help more people out,” Jain said. 

In April, Jain created PDX Concierge, a free grocery delivery service to those who are vulnerable and confined to their homes during COVID-19. 

Jain created the website, along with a mobile app, and got more than 30 friends and classmates to volunteer to deliver groceries to anyone who is elderly, immunocompromised or otherwise affected by COVID-19 — such as first responders — in the Portland area, making more than 150 deliveries over the last four months. 

PDX Concierge recently starting making deliveries to Salem last month after a friend of Jain’s, who lives in Salem, encouraged him to expand his reach. Now, Jain and his volunteer staff will be taking orders in Keizer and are currently looking for more people in the area that are interested in serving. 

“We have the capacity for it, so we want to do it,” Jain said.

According to Jain, it took a little while to get the word out, but once June came, he was taking and delivering orders every day.

Jain and his crew maintain precautions while making deliveries, wearing masks and gloves, along with practicing social distancing. Customers can reimburse the volunteers via cash, check or payment app —no tip or service fees are required. They also will occasionally leave their customers handwritten notes of encouragement. 

“It’s just a way to show that we’re here to help,” Jain said. 

Jain has worked hard to create this platform, sacrificing the majority of his free time to serving, but to him, it’s all worth it.

“It’s a very satisfying feeling. Our customers are very appreciative. It’s fun to know that we are bringing each person a lot of joy,” Jain said. “There have been a lot of people going through some really hard times. We just want to give them one less thing to worry about.”

Jain says that PDX Concierge will be running for the remainder of the summer and likely for the remainder of the year.

“We’re going to keep going as long as there is a need,” Jain said. 

To request a delivery, email [email protected] or call 971-347-7778. People can also go to fill out a request form with a store and list of groceries.