Thank you so much to so many for helping us to reach our goal! We're thrilled...and really appreciate your generosity.
Our “Support Buddies” program was implemented in response to COVID-19. Suddenly, older adults were isolated at home without a way to get food, medicine, and other supplies. Many of these low-income seniors are without Internet access or computers so their isolation has been intensified.
In partnership with Heineberg Senior Community Center and other local organizations and volunteers, we quickly shifted gears in March from in-person programs to in-home services. Community volunteers (many of whom were furloughed or working from home) were individually partnered with seniors to offer phonecall check-ins, grocery and meal deliveries, and anything else for which the senior might need assistance.
We now offer weekly meal and grocery distribution (with strict health protocols---no one enters a senior’s home and masks are mandated), phonecall check-ins to listen and encourage, and a referral system. Volunteers donate the majority of hours spent on phonecalls and deliveries.
Because we do not want to duplicate anything already being offered in the community, we refer seniors to other programs whenever possible. In some scenarios, we assist seniors more directly---those without money to pay for basic groceries, those already obtaining food piecemeal, homeless seniors who need a few meals when other programs are closed, older veterans in precarious situations.
The glaring gap in technology access has become apparent during COVID. Only 40% of the seniors we serve have computers, access to the Internet, and adequate training. We want to partner seniors with volunteers who can help with IT as well as companies that can provide computers to those in need.
In the future, we plan to:
*replenish our "grocery store", basic supplies that we purchase in bulk for weekly deliveries
*renovate a shed for safe food storage and distribution
*partner with the Burlington High School’s Culinary Program to provide healthy breakfasts
*expand IT training and donation of computers to help with isolation and access issues
*expand the number of online “HANDS in the Kitchen” nutrition education programs to support seniors with their healthy eating goals
*partner with the Intervale Food Hub and Vermont Foodbank to get more fresh, healthy, locally grown vegetables to seniors
Other HANDS programs include "HANDS in the Dirt" gardening programs at long-term nursing centers and senior housing, a "HANDS in the Kitchen" nutrition education series, and our annual Holiday Dinner where we deliver 850 meals and giftbags all over the county on Christmas Day.
Thank you so MUCH for supporting our efforts!