Caribou musher Hannah Lucas is harnessing her passion for dogsledding to support homebound seniors in rural Maine.
While social service agencies struggle to deliver meals to those in need, Lucas and her team of dogs are dropping off food and supplies to residents trying to avoid contracting COVID-19. Speaking by phone from Caribou, Lucas says she was motivated to help out after noticing how elderly customers were shopping in town.
Lucas: I work at a local Circle K, and I noticed that mostly elderly people were coming in and just buying like half gallon of milk, fruit or eggs, and they really wanted to minimize their exposure while this pandemic is going on. People come in and just buy a small coffee or something like that. And I really just wanted to minimize their time outside of their homes.
And when Maine Public first reached out to you, your voicemail was full. What is the response that you've gotten as word has come out that you are bringing people food via dogsled?
I'm constantly getting calls. I'm probably going to be missing calls while we're on the phone. We're starting to get booked out into Friday and Saturday now. Everyone seems to be like really thankful whenever we get there or get to the trail entrance. They're all really excited to see the dogs, and the dogs are really excited and like barking and yelling and stuff because of new people.
Could you describe to me what a delivery looks like, you know, start to finish?
So basically, I want to minimize my contact as much as I can. I usually get everyone's delivery order, and I go to the store and buy every single thing at one time. And then we just arrange all the stops to their houses in an order to where we get as close to our house whenever we finish up. When we go to meet with somebody it's usually at a local business where the trail opens up to like where the Burger King was or the Burger Boy, places like that. My handlers, my fiancé David and my roommate and handler, Wyatt Joiner, they'll wait with the teams of dogs while I walk out to the trail entrance closer to whichever business we happen to be meeting at. And I'll set the groceries down on the ground and step back, and let them go through their groceries, make sure that everything is in there. Usually we'll talk for a little bit, but I've really been trying to minimize the contact.
So what compelled you to make this part of your regular routine during this time?
Well, like I said, seeing all of the people that were coming into the Circle K just to buy like small amounts of groceries. And I'm out every day that the conditions outside are okay enough just to get my dogs exercise and train them for the next racing season. So I figured while I'm out there, I might as well be doing what I can to help out.
And what do you want people to get out of this other than food?
I don't want this thing to get worse than it already is, so that people can actually stay home and not venture off, come into contact with more people.
Ed note: interview has been edited for length and clarity.