“What I need is someone to get to the grocery store and bring me some food because I need to eat something,” said 81-year-old Army veteran Clarence Blackmon to a 911 dispatcher. He had just returned to his home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, after spending several months in the hospital. “Whatever you can do to help. I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair.”

Blackmon’s plea for help struck a chord with the emergency dispatcher Marilyn Hinson, who wrote down his grocery list, and went with police officers to deliver the items to his home, and stuck around to make him a ham sandwich.