JACKSON – Seniors are extremely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic so their isolation from others is emphasized even more. The current pandemic however, isn’t stopping a township-based organization from its mission to remind seniors they aren’t alone.
Coronavirus conditions have caused visitation by relatives to lessen. It also caused the work of Adopt-A-Senior Organization, a support group, to modify what it does to make sure seniors aren’t forgotten.
Annye I. Cohen, president of the Adopt A Senior Organization based in Jackson said recently that while she and her fellow volunteers cannot go to assisted living facilities and nursing homes to bring their birthday cards, gifts and personal touch directly to the seniors they serve, that deliveries to those facilities continue to brighten the day of seniors in Jackson and elsewhere.
The group’s motto is “Seniors Should Never Be Forgotten” and that means even during a pandemic. Perhaps especially during a pandemic according to Cohen.
Since the conditions of the pandemic started, creating social distancing and the wearing of masks and other precautions, volunteers had to revise how they operate through a bit of creativity.
Cohen said, “our last day that we actually hand-delivered birthday gifts was on Tuesday, March 9. Once we realized that the facilities were no longer going to allow visitors, we immediately worked up with a plan to ensure that our seniors would not be forgotten during this time.”
“We decided we would either ship the gifts or drop them off at the facilities and have the staff hand them out in place of us,” Cohen.
“It was something we have never wanted to do but the choice was to either do it this way or our seniors would not get a gift for their birthdays,” she added.
“We have shipped and/or dropped off gifts for April and May and are now working on June birthday gifts. Each gift is still something that the senior has requested and ranges from clothing, toiletries, coloring, reading and puzzle books, make-up, music CDs and even a few baby dolls,” Cohen added.
Seniors who are enjoying the benefits and warm greetings and presents of the organization include those living at Bartley Healthcare in Jackson Township. One member wrapped and shipped gifts to Bartley Healthcare from her home in Middletown.
In addition to the birthday gifts members made a basket of goodies – lipsticks and colognes for the residents and hand lotions for the staff at The Orchards “so they know we are thinking of them,” Cohen said.
She added that members of the group also made up Mother’s Day goody bags for the 88 ladies at Brighton Gardens in Middletown. Another member is “creating hand-made cards for the residents at Sunrise Jackson to let them know we are thinking of them.”
Cohen wrote thinking of you cards for the residents and thank you cards for the staff at Bartley Healthcare.
“We have been busy crocheting lap blankets and have completed over 50 of them since the pandemic began,” Cohen said. Members have also picked up and delivered lunch from Jersey Mike’s Sub Shop to the staff at Brighton Gardens in Middletown “to let them know how much we love and appreciate them for taking care of our seniors.”
Utilizing technology has been another means to let seniors know that despite the current health crisis, that they are not forgotten. Cohen said she and another member have both been emailing, calling and using FaceTime “to keep in touch with some of the residents who do not have any family.”
“Our motto ‘Seniors Should Never Be Forgotten’ has always been something we strive to do each and every day and during this pandemic it has never been more important,” Cohen said.
The group needs public support through volunteers and donations to continue its efforts.
Last fall the group held one of its biggest fundraisers, a Tricky Tray fundraiser at the Howell/Jackson Columbian Club Hall on Bartley Road.
AASO Director Margaret Morris said at the time, “this is our big event where we have the opportunity to raise awareness about our organization and what we do for the seniors living in long-term care facilities within the local community, as well as raise funds to buy all of the gifts for their birthdays and the upcoming holidays.”
Morris added “this is when we communicate that there are so many seniors living in long-term healthcare facilities that might not have visitors.”
“We look to the community to help us make sure that their birthdays and the holidays are happy ones. We look for volunteers who might want to adopt a senior or donate to help buy gifts for those seniors; we spread awareness about our mission of making sure ‘Seniors are not forgotten,’” Morris added.
Cohen is the founder of the organization, noted that the need for volunteer and financial support is essential. “We can definitely use donations for the holidays as our fundraiser will probably not happen this September.”.
For additional information or for how you can support the group’s efforts visit their website at adopt-a-senior.org or call 347-415-3697. You can also e-mail Adopt-A-Senior at firstname.lastname@example.org.