Igor Tregub serves as lifeline in Northern California
As our Nation continues to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees of the Nuclear Security Enterprise have found themselves taking on various roles outside of their usual job responsibilities. Igor Tregub, an engineer and program manager with NNSA’s Livermore Field Office, has taken on a myriad of roles, including community helper, champion against social isolation and webmaster.
As they recognized the potential disruptions caused by the coronavirus and response, friends and neighbors in Tregub’s Northern California community established the grassroots Berkeley Mutual Aid Network . Its objective: to enhance the efforts of local, state and federal governments and help those in the community most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
“It’s been the same thing I would say about working at NNSA—being part of something larger than yourself and having something that is so directly focused on the mission of keeping the community together at a time when there is so much uncertainty and turbulence,” he said of the experience.
At the onset of the state’s shelter-in-place order, volunteers were matched with community residents who asked for assistance. Requests ranged from delivery of essential supplies and food to solicitations for miscellaneous help. For example, many of the senior citizens that participate in the program feel particularly isolated because they are in a higher-risk group, Tregub noted.
“On a weekly basis I check in with as many as five different individuals depending on what the needs are,” Tregub said. “Some folks need an occasional wellness check-in or just a regularly scheduled call to see how they are doing. Other requests are more involved.”
As California’s shelter-in-place requirements stretch into their third month and an end to the virus restrictions still potentially distant, Tregub’s support has evolved as the needs in the community grow. For instance, he and his fellow volunteers have coordinated their schedules to shop at food banks, which have limited business hours.
“Eight out of 10 times, it’s something that I can do from afar. When these requests happen during work time, I can contact other members of the network who are able to go to on a run,” he says. “For grocery runs, we basically shop for other neighbors when we go out to get groceries. We’ll just coordinate the deliveries that day and we’ll leave the groceries on the porch, respecting social distancing guidelines.”
It’s been the same thing I would say about working at NNSA—being part of something larger than yourself and having something that is so directly focused on the mission of keeping the community together at a time when there is so much uncertainty and turbulence.
As one of the network’s webmasters, he has helped the website grow from a spreadsheet to a site now seen by as many as thousands of visitors in the community. Tregub advises those who may be considering getting involved in something similar in their community to help.
“Just do it,” he says. “The opportunity to get to know so many incredible people that I didn’t know before the pandemic has given me a new perspective on our interconnectedness. There are so many folks in need right now. It may not seem like a huge lift to send out that one email, make one call, or to get out on that grocery run for one individual, but to them you are their lifeline.”