Our Montecito and Goleta sites are home away from home for many seniors with dementia in our local community, providing adult day services with engaging activities, nutritious meals, and compassionate care. With both Centers closed due to COVID-19, we knew we had to do all we can to support our elderly members by alternate means.
Staff took immediate action to implement remote services—check-in calls to our members and their families, virtual activities online, and caregiver support groups using Zoom, increased from monthly to weekly.
Because our members are the most high-risk demographic, they are unable to go out in public and fight the crowds for basic survival needs—food, medicine, and germ-prevention supplies. In this challenging situation, Friendship Center reached out to existing and new partners to initiate and coordinate this collaborative response, Take Care Totes & Food For Friends, delivering care packages to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
In spearheading this project, we have formed some new partnerships, while others are shifting their purposes to meet new demands. We are pleased to continue our ongoing collaborations with Foodbank of Santa Barbara, providing food, and Easy Lift Transportation, making the deliveries. An exciting new partnership is with Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade volunteers, the local heroes who first assembled to dig neighbors’ homes out of the mud after 2018’s tragic debris flow.
Last Thursday, Friendship Center’s Montecito courtyard bustled with these volunteers, clad in masks and gloves and observing careful distancing, as they packed brown paper bags with staples such as canned fruit and beans, juice, rice, nuts, and bananas. They also put together small Take Care Totes with toiletries and donated items such as toothpaste, shampoo, and other sundries for our members and their families. Depending on need, we hope to make these deliveries twice per month.
The COVID-19 experience so far has shown us how unpredictable the spread of this virus can be, but we know our success as an organization lies in our rapid response to the core needs of our members, and our ability to shift our functions to keep meeting their needs as a priority.