Last week, as area schools and institutions began announcing closings, and the words “social distancing” entered our collective vocabulary, this note popped into our inbox.
“I’m right at Fessenden and Broad Branch Terrace,” Michael Bates wrote, “and I have free time in the mornings most days, due to the nature of my job. I was hoping I could volunteer with any elderly/high risk neighbors, assuming they want to stay home and self-isolate.”
We told him he could place an ad on our Classifieds page, for free. And we would like to make the same offer to all of you. If you have a specific need, you are welcome to advertise that as well – again, for free.
A handwritten note is a nice way to offer help, too. Juanita Gray, UDC’s community engagement director, volunteered her services in a note posted in the elevator of her Van Ness apartment building. It went viral.
“One neighbor sent the note to Upworthy, where it’s been ‘liked’ tens of thousands of times, and shared by actress Kristen Bell,” ABC7 reports.
Northwest Neighbors Village, a service Forest Hills Connection has covered extensively, has been offering assistance to elderly neighbors for more than a decade. It is still offering the same support to its members, but modified “out of an abundance of caution,” as Executive Director Stephanie Chong wrote on community listservs on Friday. Her letter also contained helpful tips for helping our neighbors:
Out of an abundance of caution and because our members are generally older and at higher risk for the Coronoavirus (COVID-19), we have temporarily suspended group gatherings sponsored by the Villages. However, at the heart of our Villages is our commitment to be a trusted resource and provide programs and services that meet our our members’ needs. As such, we are implementing a variety of measures to connect with our members using web conferencing to host programs, regular telephone contact, and volunteer support including grocery shopping and running errands, assistance with online ordering, and transportation to important appointments.
This is the time for our community to come together to help those who may need greater support to stay safe. Here are some ways you can help your older neighbors:
1. Be in touch. Right now it is so important to make regular telephone contact to ensure your neighbors are healthy. If your neighbor lives alone, ask him/her if they are comfortable sharing contact information for their next of kin for use in an emergency. Connect them with Northwest Neighbors Village or Cleveland & Woodley Park Village if you think they would benefit from our activities. At a time when the CDC is promoting “social distancing” for this high-risk population, find ways to connect with your older neighbors to reduce the potential for social isolation.
2. Donate supplies. We know that there has been a global run on personal hygiene and household items like toilet paper, tissues, soap, disinfectant cleansers, etc. If you are really stocked up, perhaps you could share some with your neighbors who may be running short. Other items to consider are disposable gloves, thermometers, and non-perishable food. Our Villages are accepting in kind donations. Please contact us (see below).
3. Donate money to our Villages so we can purchase supplies for members in need. See below for information making an online donation.
Fortunately, our community is one of many neighborhoods that are supported by a Village. If you know of someone who could benefit from a Village but lives elsewhere, check out these resources to find out if there’s a Village near them:
Villages are all about coming together to support one another. Thank you so much for your consideration in helping to strengthen our community during this time.
For more information about Northwest Neighbors Village please email email@example.com or call 202.777.3435. Visit our website at nnvdc.org for updates on our response to COVID-19. Online donations to Northwest Neighbors Village may be made here.
For more information about Cleveland & Woodley Park Village, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-615-5853. Online donations to Cleveland & Woodley Park Village may be made here.