Difference Makers: Marin County Woman Brings Aid, Emotional Support To Seniors

Marin County woman brings aid, emotional support to seniors
Photo credit Penny Macphail

A North Bay woman is working to expand her efforts to help connect local volunteers with seniors who need support while sheltering in place.

Penny Macphail created the organization Good Fairy Marin County after her elderly mother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19 in England following a shopping trip.

“It just showed that it was definitely possible for people to pick it up from shopping. It was a wakeup call for our family. She survived, but she had a horrible time,” Macphail said.

So she immediately jumped into action.

“Online services that were taking two hours before were now taking two weeks. I noticed a lot of young girls were putting kind messages on Nextdoor saying I can shop for the elderly,” she said.

She placed a call for Good Fairy volunteers in Sleepy Hollow on the online platform, and in less than three months more than 600 volunteer helpers signed on.

Good Fairy volunteers shop for groceries, provide masks and bake. Others give plant seedlings, swap jigsaw puzzles, perform various errands or simply offer companionship through phone calls and Zoom meetings. 

All volunteers must stay outside and remain at a safe distance for all home deliveries and drop-offs.

The group started out by helping seniors but has since expanded its networks to help people of all ages.

“Rather than just shopping for people, we started involving the whole community in trying to train seniors how to do online shopping and Zoom calls so they could be happier and more independent,” Macphail said.

As for the name “Good Fairy,” Macphail explains that as a child, her best friend imagined a fairy on her shoulder whenever she was afraid.

“If you actually feel someone placing an imaginary fairy on your shoulder, it’s like you have somebody there supporting you to help you help yourself,” she said.

Good Fairy is now looking to expand the program countywide.

If you know someone who is working to keep us safe during the coronavirus pandemic and would like to nominate them as a KCBS Radio Difference Maker, email differencemakers@kcsbradio.com.