GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Midland Area Agency on Aging and the Heartland Disaster Recovery Group know some central Nebraska seniors need their help. They have been locked up for weeks and need a safe way to get food, as well as someone to talk to. Now the Friendship Network program is aiming to do both.
Some senior citizens don't want to risk leaving the house during the pandemic, so two agencies are teaming up to make sure they get what they need. (KSNB)
Volunteers pick up groceries and bring them to seniors who may not want to leave their homes during the pandemic. Many have health issues that put them at an even higher risk.
“They really aren't wanting to go out. Having access to hand sanitizer and face masks is always essential and trying to connect them with those resources,” Midland AAA Executive Director Casey Muzic said.
She also said some seniors have become depressed not being able to go out or see family. If the senior wants, volunteers can call them multiple times a week just to chat or go for walks. Karen Hendrix of Grand Island lives alone in her apartment. She said talking to the volunteers has helped her mood a lot.
“The seniors that are on our services and come to the senior centers, we're trying to connect with them on a daily basis,” Muzic said. “Our senior centers have gone to drive-through meals and then also home delivery meals. So we're trying to stay in contact with them that way.”
At the Grand Generation Center, the usual busy cafeteria has turned into a line of cars. Every day members come by to say hello to the staff and get something to eat. The kitchen staff said it has been hard being away from them and they have even lost a few of their regular members.
“I just want them all to know that we miss them and we're doing everything we can to keep them safe and just provide them with a healthy meal,” Kitchen Manager Evelyne Rice said.
The agencies want to make sure their vulnerable populations are well taken care of even if from a distance. For now, the Friendship Network program is only available in Hall, Hamilton, Howard, and Merrick counties. They hope to add Adams county next month.
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Seniors can request a community volunteer by calling Midland AAA office: 402-463-4565