by ALEXANDRA RETTER
Local organizations and volunteers are working to assist older adults in the community as people socially distance themselves and stay at home as much as possible to help decrease the spread of the coronavirus.
Friendship Center Director Malia Fox said anyone who is 55 or older is encouraged to call the center at 507-454-5212 Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to let the center know of any needs they have and to receive help. People are welcome to leave voicemails as well.
Center employees are calling every center member to check in with them and find out their needs.
Fox said that as a moderator for the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Facebook group, she is keeping tabs on people volunteering in the group to help older adults and older adults in the group who are requesting assistance, such as getting supplies. Neighbors Helping Neighbors was created as a means to connect those who need assistance to volunteers willing to lend a helping hand.
The Friendship Center is also working hard to offer programming remotely, where people can take part in activities such as chair yoga and tai chi.
To connect with and request help through the Neighbors Helping Neighbors group, individuals may call 507-312-9133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The phone number and email address are overseen and replied to by Engage Winona volunteers.
Older adults and those helping older adults may contact another resource, Great Rivers 2-1-1, by dialing 2-1-1 or 800-362-8255 to be connected with an information and referral specialist who can talk with them about local resources that would fit their needs.
Winona Volunteer Services (WVS) Executive Director Sandra Burke said the organization is continuing to deliver meals to those who are part of the home-delivered meals program, and those who are interested in the program may call WVS at 507-452-5591 so the organization can monitor how to help them most effectively.
The WVS food shelf is shifting to an emergency food distribution model for current clients and new clients, Burke said. Pre-packaged boxes of non-perishable food items, in addition to available meat, produce, bread and dairy products, will be handed out Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at WVS starting the week of March 30.
The WVS clothes shop is closed to the public until further notice, but if an emergency related to needing clothing arose for someone, access to the shop could be provided, Burke said.
Burke said people are encouraged to call WVS to discuss their needs, as access to the WVS lobby will be restricted moving forward.
Through the Winona Health Volunteers’ telecare service, older adults can receive a daily check-in and a bit of friendly conversation by phone. The service is free, regardless of where a person’s health care services are received.
Calls are made between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and if someone cannot be reached, the WH volunteer reaches out to the individual’s contact person. Those who wish to sign up for the program or ask questions about it may call 507-457-4342.
Those interested in volunteering may contact the organizations noted above.