On the morning of March 11, 2020 local cafe owner Daniel Budd walked out of a town Economic Development Committee meeting with an idea for a volunteer run community help system. At the same time Red Hook High School Senior, Christopher Donohue had called a neighbor for a friendly and supportive chat. Chris felt the need to do more to help people and called Red Hook Village Mayor Ed Blundell, who sent Chris to Mr. Budd and the mission was started.
Dan and Chris gathered a team of high school and college students along with a few other business owners and community adults. By April 1 a web page with help service request forms, a volunteer portal and schedule, facilities to receive, store and prepare meals, a local helpline phone number, and 501C3 nonprofit fiscal sponsorship. By April 5 the first meals were delivered and hundreds of volunteer were streaming in. During April-September 2020, of the Covid-19 pandemic 8 to 12 live operators were answering help request calls from 9am-5pm 7 days a week. Volunteers were dispatched on hundreds of help services. Teams for services in volunteer screening and onboarding, neighborly chats, grocery shopping and delivery, pharmacy errands, food pantry bag delivery, mask delivery, local food exchange (mini food bank) and delivered prepared meals were bustling with activity and precision. As of November 2021 nearly 700 volunteers had joined Red Hook Responds to serve over 26,000 helps actions. The system also adapted to offer snow shoveling, vaccine appointment assistance, delivery of school made meals, virtual tutoring, and veggie-tables (installed vegetable garden tables to homes in need).
In 2021 Red Hook Responds became a not for profit corporation of New York State and applied for 501-C3 federal non- profit status and a board of directors was named. As Chris went off to Middlebury college Dan Budd remained as a volunteer executive director while also running his cafe business. In August 2021 Red Hook Responds hired its first employee, from its volunteer pool, Jeung-il Tsumagari as full time Executive Director. Dan remains as an active volunteer and founding board member. Chris returned as an intern in 2021 to write Red Hook Responds first annual report. Red Hook Responds continues to grow and serve the Northern Dutchess Community and plans to remain as a community resource for years to come.