Bringing Oakland County together to beat COVID-19.

By mobilizing technology, community organizing, and volunteerism, COVID Response Network of Oakland County connects people in need with friends who can help.

Who We Are

COVID Response Network is a network of leaders from local community organizations, churches, and other agencies in central Oakland County who are working collaboratively to support and connect volunteers and resources with individuals and families experiencing hardships during the Coronavirus pandemic.

How It Works

COVID Response Network of Oakland County functions based on a simple concept of partnership to maximize offerings to those who are most in need. Historically, these kind of collaborative partnerships have been difficult to implement, but COVID Response Network is different. Here’s why:

Single Intake Form for Everyone

No matter if you are looking for help, desiring to volunteer, or register your organization and its crisis-related resources, there is one website where we direct ALL participants. This makes all communication simple, easy, and effective as all action in a community is driven toward a single access point.

A Custom Community Database

Because all users enter information in one place, COVID Response Network has developed a powerful relational database that links all resources, needs, and volunteers together seamlessly. Pair that with a dedicated team of volunteer developers creating custom software to best leverage the data, and you have a technology tool that has helped us move mountains in a highly collaborative way.

People-Focused Approach to Service

Within COVID Response Network, all partners understand it is not about who gets the credit. Instead, our common values focus entirely on the quality of service that community members received from our partner organizations, case managers, and fellow citizens. We regularly ask for feedback to understand how we can serve the people in our community better, and we respond to that feedback.

Our Accomplishments

Since our official establishment in March 2020, our coalition has achieved the following:

  1. We created a single database to consolidate, manage, and cross reference all community resources, network partners, individual volunteers, and people requesting help.
  2. We trained and empowered over 100 volunteers to act as case managers over each of the 1500+ households who requested help, giving each household a dedicated person to contact them, coordinate resources, and offer support to see how they were managing during throughout the crisis.
  3. We developed a “suggested” volunteers module that harnesses artificial intelligence to “match” the 10 best volunteers with each request for help, giving case managers a simple, efficient way to find people resources to serve the one-time or ongoing needs of their assigned households. In addition, we automated volunteer notifications to streamline and scale community connection between volunteers and people in need.
  4. We established a collaborative food distribution system among over a dozen of partner organizations, that is packing and delivering over 70,000 meals per week right to each doorstep of those who are requesting it. In addition, we created a an entire digital emergency warehouse management system that allowed us to transform a 250,000 square foot university student center at Oakland University into a safe-distance food distribution warehouse, saving huge amounts of time and money in finding and outfitting a warehouse. Over 300 volunteers actively participate in this effort, with room to scale up.
  5. We have welcomed over 80 partner organizations into our collaborative effort, engaging them with weekly calls, dedicated training on our custom technology systems, and gained visibility through multiple media features.

Our Story

  • March 12, 2020

    Cam Underdown begins initial development of mycovidresponse.org as a way to try to engage various networks of volunteers in a safe, coordinated manner.

  • March 13, 2020

    Jen Lucarelli and Dustin McClellan start discussion on emergency food protocol in response to lockdown orders.

  • March 14, 2020

    Cam Underdown releases initial version of website via his social media channels. Chris Powers calls him to discuss what this website could mean to the community.

  • March 15, 2020

    Over 20 international students and 10 local citizens begin writing resource posts and translating initial version of website. 

  • March 16, 2020

    First 100 volunteers sign up, and first 10 initial needs are met. OU William Beaumont Students pulled out of their rotations jump in full force to help establish the COVID Response Network movement, adding over 100 more volunteers to the ranks.

  • March 17, 2020

    Jen Lucarelli stumbles upon mycovidresponse.org, and believes it is the missing link to her and Dustin's community coalition action for emergency food resources. Jen contacts Cam, and a partnership is formed.

  • March 20, 2020

    First new partners begin jumping on board to the site. Vision for case management system established to ensure everyone in need gets a dedicated specialist to help their household navigate needs in the pandemic.

  • March 31, 2020

    United Way awards more than $300,000 to collaborative effort between Oakland University, Pontiac Community Foundation, and Lighthouse of Michigan to support the COVID Response Network collaborative effort. Over 300 households in the system receiving support.

  • April 3, 2020

    Media coverage begins in earnest. Large scale Saturday deliveries with over 40 volunteers begin taking shape, becoming a weekly tradition for dozens of volunteers to build consistency of service to households in need.

  • April 10, 2020

    Over 50 volunteer case managers are trained, looking over 500 households in the database. Over 40,000 meals are being delivered each week. Customization to database begins with expanded development team. 

  • May 1, 2020

    After 7 weeks, over 1000 households and 800 volunteers are added to the database, as well as over 100 community leaders and 65 organizations. We are routinely delivering 70,000 meals per week on average.

  • May 15, 2020

    We begin showing other communities how we have turned a collaborative effort of of over 80 organizations, a major university, 1000 volunteers, and custom technology into a food distribution and case management operation, hoping to share it with communities beyond our own.

  • June 15, 2020

    Co-founders Chris and Cam begin prototyping the next generation of tools to deliver resources to families throughout Oakland County under the code name Recirpocity

  • June 26, 2020

    The team wins a $100k grant from United Way with the help of Jennifer Lucarelli to support ongoing staff costs and next generation development of our systems.

  • Summer 2020

    The team celebrates the last day of disaster food operations at Oakland University as Lighthouse of Michigan moves food distribution to a more permanent warehouse in Waterford, MI to ensure that the program can continue to scale. Food deliveries continue during the summer.

  • August 24, 2020

    The team wins a $10k award from Tech Impact for bringing technological innovation and leadership to the nonprofit sector for collaboration with Lighthouse.

  • September 10, 2020

    Reciprocity, Inc. is incorporated to bring tech innovation to nonprofits, government and the human services.

  • Fall, 2020

    The Covid Response Network Surpasses 20,000 food deliveries coordinated, each delivery representing a week's worth of food to a family in need in continued partnership with Lighthouse of Michigan and our other network partners.

  • Thanksgiving, 2020

    The Covid Response Network partners with Lighthouse to match families in need with volunteers and food. Within 48 hours of launching our new volunteer matching system, over 500 deliveries were coordinated. Thanks to the combined efforts of our network partners, Lighthouse, and Lighthouse's partner agencies, over 2,500 families recieved food over the holiday.

  • December 1, 2020

    The Covid Response Network makes it's first formal request for financial support and donations to support our ongoing community service efforts.

  • December 4, 2020

    Lighthouse hires Anna Kohn as a director of food programs to make our collaborative effort more sustainable. Lighthouse assumes more operational and program level responsibility for all disaster food programming and starts a dedicated fund raising campaign to support those in need for the remainder of the panemic.

  • Christmas, 2020

    Reciprocity helps coordinate an Adopt-A-Family program in partnership with Lighthouse to serve over 300 families across Oakland County

  • January, 2021

    Chris Powers and Cam Underdown, the co-founders of MyCovidResponse are invited to speak at various online forums for grassroots organizers, faith leaders, public health officials, and local government officials to share updates about MCR. The New Year brings political challenges and new hope for what a vaccine rollout might mean in the fight against the pandemic.

  • Jan-March 2021

    The team at Lighthouse, MCR and Reciprocity keep making improvements to the Emergency Food Distribution Program. Now volunteers can sign up for opportunities themselves. Every week, food and supplies keep going out to families thanks to Lighthouse and our partner organizations.

  • March 14, 2021

    MyCovidResponse celebrates its first birthday! Co-founders Cam and Chris use this day to plan the future of the project like they did when the pandemic first began hitting the US.

  • April 2021

    MCR partners with St. Joseph Mercy to schedule vaccine appointments to those in need.

  • May 13, 2021

    As of this day, MCR with our partners has coordinated 44,593 food deliveries and counting...

  • June, 2021

    MCR Crosses >60,000 food deliveries and expands food operations to a few satalite locations

  • September, 2021

    Lighthouse hosts 'A Night of Inspiration' event to raise money, honor early collaborators & dedicated volunteers for the emergency food program

  • October, 2021

    Jennifer Lucarelli & Chris Powers lead an effort to quantify the positive impact of MCR's Emergency food program by launching a public health / satisfaction survey in partnership with Oakland University, Lighthouse, and Reciprocity. ~11.6% of the program's recipients completed the 15 minute survey, which will result in program improvements based on the data.

  • November, 2021

    Lighthouse signs key partnerships to continue the sustainability and scale of the emergency food program. Thanksgiving program coordinates meal delivery to 2,000 families in one week.

Our Leadership

Chris Powers

leadership consultant and strategist

An Oakland University alumnus, Chris has a deep interest in developing new initiatives to grow and scale. With over a decade in the business and startup world, Chris has advised dozens of organizations as they develop their initial plans to be successful. His current activity outside COVID Response Network involve working to aid organizations working on climate change.

Cam Underdown

minister & social entrepreneur, abide ministries

Cam has more than a decade launching new ministries, churches, and non-profits. A Pontiac resident and OU alumnus, Cam is well connected in local faith communities and community development organizations around Oakland County. Additionally, he has a background in web development, which he used to pioneer the technology powering COVID Response Network.

Media Features

Fox 2 runs 60 second feature on COVID Response Network discussing the $300,000 collaborative grant the network received.
Lighthouse, Pontiac Community Foundation awarded $300,000 for meal distribution
How hundreds of medical students are staying useful during COVID-19
Group collaboration targets homelessness in Oakland County
COVID Response: ‘Saving Lives’: Volunteers, aid organizations band together to meet needs throughout Oakland County
When it comes to emergency food, many people can't afford to stay home, stay safe
Move Out Director Becky Lee interviews three individuals from My COVID Response.