Local senior centers are stepping up and rolling out several different programs to help ensure that seniors are getting access to fresh food, prescriptions and other necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated statewide shelter-in-place mandate.
The Healdsburg Senior Center, the Cloverdale Multipurpose Senior Center, the Sebastopol Area Senior Center and the Windsor Senior Recreation Center, working with various nonprofits, are all creating programs to see that seniors get what they need.
In Healdsburg, the Healdsburg Senior Center in conjunction with Healdsburg Community Services, rolled out a four-point older adult services and senior services assistance plan, which launched last week.
The program centers around four key elements: care calls, nutrition assistance, volunteer driving and the neighbors network.
In a video posted to the city of Healdsburg Facebook page on Friday morning, March 20, Healdsburg Community Services Director Mark Themig walked through the Healdsburg Senior Center to show these essential services in action.
He stopped by and chatted with a senior center staff member, Nicole, who was finishing up a care call with a resident.
“We are calling all of our local seniors to make sure that they have a plan in place for the next few weeks. We are also checking in on their health and making sure that their nutritional and medical needs are being met. We also want to make sure that they are in regular contact with their family and friends and that they are not feeling isolated during this time,” she said. “Another reason for our calls is that we want to make sure that they are not afraid and that they know we are here for them and that we care about their overall wellbeing.”
Nicole said in the video that a handful of people are nervous about the situation, but overall they are feeling grateful that city staff is reaching out to them.
Care calls will be done in an ongoing cycle to ensure that folks receive periodic contact.
If you or someone you know would like a Care Call, please contact the senior center at 707-431-3324.
In terms of getting fresh food to seniors, the Council on Aging and their Meals on Wheels program has been the main vehicle for supplying food according to Themig.
“Our first focus is on the Council on Aging, which does the Meals on Wheels program,” Themig said in an interview with The Tribune. “They have moved to a five-day, pre-packaged flash frozen meal pack (delivery). We are also working with the Redwood Empire Food Bank. They are doing food distribution drop offs. They bring food to the senior center, and we are packaging it up and delivering it to the seniors in our community.”
Themig said they made their first delivery on Wednesday, March 18, and they are working on improving the model.
He said the food bank and the city are also working on organizing a “groceries to go” pick up on Tuesday, March 24, at the Healdsburg Community Center. The drive through will take place at 11 a.m. in the back parking lot of the community center at 1557 Healdsburg Ave. The groceries will include shelf-stable items, as well as fresh eggs and produce from local farms.
Due to the social distancing order, this will be a drive through pick up, where folks will remain in their cars while getting groceries. There will be a walk-up option for those without transportation.
The Drivers Assisting Seniors in Healdsburg (DASH) program will still be available but will have scaled-back services.
According to a press release from the city of Healdsburg about the senior assistance program, “Our volunteer driver program is still operational with a few modifications:
· We are only providing essential rides.
· Riders will be screened carefully prior to scheduling.
· The driving service will be provided by City staff.
· DASH vehicles will also be used for delivery of food and essential supplies.”
You can reach the DASH program at 707-431-3492.
“The other element to this is that there is a neighbor network program that was a pre-existing program created by resident Gail Jonas … and we are trying to ramp that up,” Themig said.
With the Neighbors Network, the city will help coordinate with organizations and people who are willing to help seniors and older adults with shopping and errands, pet care, minor home maintenance, social interaction (walks and phone calls) and referrals for other volunteer needs in the community.
If you need assistance or if you would like to help, see cityofhealdsburg.org/volunteer or call 707-431-3492.
The Cloverdale Multipurpose Senior Center has started a volunteer initiative where Cloverdale residents can sign up to volunteer to pick up and drop off groceries and medications and run other essential errands.
For instance, Dahlia and Sage Community Market is taking phone orders, so a senior could call and place an order and pay over the phone and a volunteer would then pick up and deliver the groceries.
“We are very concerned about our seniors being isolated,” said Melanie Hall, program manager for the Cloverdale Multipurpose Senior Center. “We worry about our seniors in general being isolated and how that leads to depression and decline in overall health, and so we’ve learned some lessons from the Kincade Fire and the power outages that we want to improve on as a community. Since we do serve a lot of seniors with our membership, we wanted to be sure that we are reaching out to everyone that might have a need.”
The center posted on their Facebook page earlier last week that they are collecting a list of names and phone numbers of people who are willing to help and so far the response has been positive.
“It has been pretty incredible. We just posted on our senior center page on Facebook last evening and at the end of the day we’ve had a lot of responses already with people signing up. We’ve got several volunteers for various things,” Hall said. “It is exciting to see how many people are willing to help our seniors.”
In addition to the grocery drop off, Hall said she is working on virtual connectivity for seniors.
“We are in the process of setting up a Zoom account to be able to offer something. We are also partnered up with Covia, which is a nonprofit that serves seniors, and they have a social connection that we have been putting out on our email blast to our membership,” Hall said.
She said they are also in the process of setting up a phone tree with some volunteers who can check in with seniors and let them know that the center is available by email and by phone as a resource.
Someone will be at the center Monday through Friday to answer calls and be there to accept delivery from Meals on Wheels of their five-day meal pack.
To volunteer with the Cloverdale Multipurpose Senior Center, call the center at 707-894-4826, or visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/DD6Z5S2 online and fill in your information.
Those receiving Meals on Wheels services will continue to be served, according to Linda Civitello, the Sebastopol Area Senior Center executive director.
To make a request meals for delivery through the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels program, call Jennifer at Council on Aging, 707-525-0143, ext. 119, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
If you are a senior in need of transportation, call 707-829-2440 and the center will try to coordinate a ride.
In terms of social connectivity, Civitello said, “Our staff is working tirelessly to check in on our members and folks who use the center, especially those who are more isolated.”
Erin Stroud, the recreation and program supervisor for the Windsor Senior Recreation Center, said that the town is still working on finding ways to best help seniors during this time.
In an interview on Tuesday, March 24, Stroud said that she is working on a contract with the Redwood Empire Food Bank to start a grocery drive through program at the Windsor Senior Recreation Center.
“We were already working on a contract with the food bank for groceries pick up… and we are excited to start this at the senior center,” Stroud said.
The grocery pick up service will occur the first and third Friday of the month from 11 a.m. to noon at the center, 9231 Foxwood Dr., Windsor.
Stroud said the service will most likely start April 3 at the Windsor Senior Recreation Center.
“They (seniors) can drive right up and get handed their food,” Stroud said, noting that if a senior does not feel comfortable leaving their home, someone can pick up the food for them.
Stroud said the other thing she is working on, is calling senior center members to check if folks have food.
She said that she is happy to report that many of the seniors have said that friends, family and neighbors have volunteered to help bring groceries and other goods to seniors.
“It makes me proud to live in Windsor,” Stroud said of people helping others.