Volunteer group finds a new purpose: Donating food and supplies to hospitals in Wuhan

Fresh food for hospitals in Wuhan is gathered and delivered by a volunteer group that includes many IBMers

One of the IBM responses to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, had its origins in an unrelated event two years ago, when a beloved local schoolteacher suffered a serious injury in an automobile accident.

A group of parents and other concerned people—many of whom were either current or ex-IBM employees—banded together to raise money to help get the teacher back to his home in the United States to recuperate. The group called itself “Here I Am.”

That name indicates “pride and happiness for us ordinary people,” says Vivian Li, a key account director with IBM in China, who is part of the group. “In fact, all relationships, family, or friendship starts with ‘Here I am.’”

This informal group had no reason to think its story wouldn’t end there. But in January—when the city of Wuhan shut down completely in response to COVID-19—the volunteers reassembled around a new mission: Delivering food and other supplies to hospitals overwhelmed by the influx of patients.

“Here I Am”—which consists of nearly 500 members, including 129 current or former IBMers—made its first hospital delivery on February 11. By the end of March, the group had delivered 170 tons of fresh food, thousands of disinfectant wipes, protective clothing and other supplies to hospitals around Wuhan.

“We are a group of ordinary people. We are not doctors who are qualified to battle the virus in the frontline,” says Li. “Then what can we do? Do what we can.”

“Our movement started by fear, continued by persistence, and ended by victory and love,” Li says.