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‘Anything for our seniors’
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Friendship staff, volunteers meet needs with grab-and-go lunches, grocery delivery and kind words
By Carol McIntire
There were smiles, waves and some much-needed socialization last Thursday as senior citizens drove through the parking lot of the Senior Friendship Center to pick up lunch.
Seniors were there to pick up grab-and-go lunches prepared by the staff, but received much more in return as employees took advantage of sunshine and warmer temperatures to sit (and stand) the correct social distance apart and greet seniors as they moved through the line.
“Some of our seniors who normally visit the center to enjoy a lunch meal are struggling with a lack of socialization,” noted Tonya Myers, Friendship Center director. “When Governor DeWine issued the order to close senior centers where congregate meals were held, it essentially cut seniors off. We decided to do the grab-and-go meals not only as a way to feed the seniors, but also so they can get a little socialization on a daily basis.”
Myers said, “Anywhere from 25 to 60 seniors would gather at the center on a given day for a meal (depending on what was on the menu) and social activities. That number has grown to a steady 50 per day with the grab-and-go system.”
“We set up a table outside the center on the edge of the parking lot and they drive through and pick up their lunch,” Myers explained. “It gives us a chance to check on them and them a chance to see other people.”
Any senior can participate by calling the center by 9 a.m. at 330-627-7017 the day they wish to grab lunch. Lunch is ready at 10:30 a.m. The suggested donation for a meal is $2.
“We miss them as much as they miss us,” noted Myers. “Of course I have moments I worry about my staff and exposure to the virus, but they want to be here. It’s truly humbling that we can be a lifeline to our seniors.”
Grab-and-go meals are also offered at the satellite centers in Malvern and Sherrodsville. The same procedure is used, with meals available at 10:30 a.m. and a suggested donation of $2. The same phone number is used to order meals.
“We truly have a wonderful senior population in Carroll County,” said Myers, becoming emotional. “They are even paying it forward in the line by paying for the meal of the person in line behind them.”
The grab-and-go meals are in addition to the home delivered meal program (Meals on Wheels) at the center. Myers noted that program has grown since the pandemic began and is now at 200 meals per day.
“It’s grown so much we added a fifth route which is staffed by volunteers,” she said.
Continuing the conversation about volunteers, the director said the number of people volunteering at the center has increased, which enables the center to offer delivery of groceries and medicine to seniors in their homes.
See SENIOR CENTER, A3
Through an agreement with Sanders Market in Carrollton, Myers said seniors can call a grocery list to the center phone number. A staff member of volunteer will take the list to Sanders and shop for groceries. The amount is tallied and the service center calls the senior citizen, who pays for the order with a credit or debit card. The groceries are then delivered to the senior.
“Sheriff Department employees are also helping make deliveries,” she noted.
For those who need transportation, the center can make arrangements through Carroll County Transit and pay for the service. Seniors should call the senior center to book appointments.
Seniors who would simply like to talk to someone can call the center to chat with staff members or they can be placed on the wellness check list and called daily.
“I can’t thank my staff and volunteers enough for helping get food prepped, packaged and delivered throughout the entire community to help our seniors,” Myers said as tears swelled in her eyes. “We are blessed that some are healthy enough to come to the curbside grab-and-go so we can offer them just an ounce of socialization. Our staff is amazing. They were offered the option of staying home and they chose to come in for our seniors, who we love so much.”
As part of the county’s COVID-19 response team, Myers said the cooperation of the different agencies has been wonderful in finding ways to help people out.
“It’s exciting that that so many people in our little community are stepping forward to help others out in a time like this,” she said. “That’s what being a community is all about.”