Gresham Meals on Wheels to continue feeding homebound seniors
Despite COVID-19 closing events and disrupting services across the region, Gresham's branch of Meals on Wheels will continue its mission of feeding seniors — just with a few tweaks to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
"This situation is changing constantly, and we are adapting along the way," said Brianna Winningham, program manager. "We are very dedicated to making sure our most vulnerable citizens are being fed."
The program made the difficult decision to close the Ambleside dining room, 600 N.E. Eighth Street. While visitors will not be able to congregate and spend their afternoons among their peers, the decision was made to mitigate the risk of exposure. But, in lieu of the dining room service, staff will pass out meals to take home between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon.
The driver pool has remained steady and Gresham's delivery routes are covered. Volunteers have been told not to come in if they show any signs of illness. They have also been asked to maintain six feet of distance between themselves and clients.
"The last thing we want to do is expose homebound clients to any unneeded risks," Winningham said.
The program expects that the driver pool may be reduced in the future, because of both the strict illness policy and that many of the volunteer drivers are a part of the population most at risk. If that happens Meals on Wheels will ask non-regular drivers to fill in as needed.
Gresham Meals on Wheels needs donations of gloves, hand sanitizer and bags with handles. The nonprofit organization has been having a difficult time finding those things to keep drivers well-stocked. Other financial donations are also appreciated, as the program has incurred extra costs.
"Gresham's citizens can help this situation greatly by picking up the phone to check in on elderly loved ones," Winningham said. "There really is a balance between keeping our seniors safe and increasing the risk of social isolation."
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