Many RSVP volunteers serve at local food shelves, manna markets and meal delivery programs to ensuring neighbors have access to food. Many people receiving food from these partnerships are often under-employed, may be low-income or seniors on fixed incomes. Then, COVID-19 happened, and food shelves reported a large increase in community need, while shifting their in-person model to pre-ordered boxes of food which were placed in client’s trunks during appointment times. One survey responder stated “Thank you! You don’t know how much this helped us. Bless you!”.
Volunteers at Medlink ensure seniors and veterans have reliable round-trip rides for medical and social service appointments. Many clients are going through critical treatments and would miss care if it weren’t for this available service. “It’s great that I don’t have to worry about getting to my medical appointments. It really is a worry when you have no family around to help get me there”.
One morning, a volunteer driver, arrived to pick up a client and noticed she didn’t answer the door. He rang the door-bell and knocked again to be sure she was aware of his arrival. Suddenly, he heard a cry for help. The client shouted out the location of her hidden house key to open the front door. The client had injured her leg from a fall 17 hours ago and hadn’t been able to get to a phone or move. The client made a full recovery after receiving emergency medical care because of Tom’s quick response in calling 911. The client shared that the volunteer driver saved her life; “I’m not sure if I could’ve survived for a few more days until my daughter came to visit”. Volunteer drivers are critical to providing valuable rides to medical appointments.
Family Caregiver Connection
During COVID-19, sites had to quickly adapt services to continue to meet increased demand. The Gathering, where caregivers receive respite breaks from taking care of their family members who have early to mid-stages of memory loss, experienced increased isolation during the stay safe at home order. The Gathering Program Coordinator knew that support groups would be needed more than ever and adapted in-person meetings to online. Staff respond to technical assistance questions and continue to offer online sessions and conference calls. Additionally, they have a variety of guest speakers for caregiver related issues. They also saw a need to keep the respite clients engaged and shifted their in-person respite groups to pen pal positions, phone friends and recently added virtual respite groups. Not only do clients remain connected; volunteers feel a sense of purpose too.
In another success story at The Gathering, 3 volunteers have done a wonderful job creating respite themes and delivering supplies to participants. The volunteers are able to engage respite clients over the phone through games and reminiscing activities. For clients who don’t want to meet virtually, they have described this service as lifesaving. They’ve stated it’s a bright spot in their week and are appreciative of all the efforts to keep them connected during the ongoing pandemic.