Community in the Midst of Crisis: The PNA’s Response
Although we may be 6 feet apart…
The pandemic has affected the PNA, like everyone else, but our work hasn’t stopped. Even though staff is working from home, we’ve been doing all we can to keep vital services going and connecting with those who need it the most.
Hot Meal Program
Our Hot Meal Program serves 20,000 meals a year to people who need them. In this new and strange time of COVID-19 and mandated physical distancing, the PNA is still providing hundreds of meals each week to seniors, people without stable or permanent housing, and others in need.
Our typical beloved meal program has been temporarily reconfigured to distribute to-go meals, minimizing the time of interactions between diners, volunteers and staff, and enabling diners to wash/sanitize their hands before eating. We are also serving warm soup, fresh-baked desserts, and hot coffee (in addition to a cold boxed meal).
We’ve had to improvise with our food and supplies–our food supply partner has been unable to provide its usual donations due to the outbreak, so we started an Amazon Wish List to fill the gap. The list also includes items we use to make up essential item care packages for our meal guests. You can buy items right off the list or get a gift card so that we can purchase food items that Amazon would not allow on a wish list (use email address [email protected] for gift card delivery). Thank you, community! We’ve had an amazing response to the drive, and continue to do so!
Greenwood Senior Center
Our wonderful GSC staff, despite working remotely, is working hard to support our community’s fabulous people 55 and older! Carin Mack, our social worker is continuing counseling and support groups on the phone and online. We’re calling Greenwood Senior Center participants in order to assess their needs and decrease isolation and we’re sending a weekly e-news. Volunteers are delivering lunches made by our talented Chef Jane. We’re hosting weekly Zoom classes and support groups; covering lots of important topics and providing at-home fitness opportunities. We’re also providing social opportunities like a Thursday morning chat time and regular sing-alongs.
The PNA Village program helps seniors to stay in their own homes and connected to their communities through volunteer services, social engagement, and more. During COVID-19 distancing, the Village is open and volunteers are active. Members are receiving volunteer services that can be done with distancing, like grocery delivery, pharmacy runs, social calls, dog walking, yard work, and small home exterior projects. We’re also delivering meals to those who need them.
To combat social isolation, we’re connecting members and volunteers to create buddy groups of 3-4 people who will check on each other and call as often as needed. We also plan to set up some regular zoom calls for people with shared interests or who live in the same area. We’re accepting new members and new volunteers, so we encourage everyone to get involved.
During the school year, our Whittier Kids team re-opened to serve families with first responders, frontline medical workers, childcare workers, and grocery workers who needed free care. Staff has worked hard on schedules that involve more time outside, fun activities that still allow distancing, and interactive group games that don’t involve touching. They followed all Seattle – King County Public Health guidance on reducing the spread of COVID-19 for child care centers, took lots of precautions, and did A LOT of extra cleaning and disinfecting! But were are up to the challenge–they filled the art closet, had over 100 library books on hand, and their outdoor equipment cart was ready to roll!
Supporting the Business Community
Like everyone, our community’s small business owners have been hit hard. Chris, our business member coordinator, has been working tirelessly to support our business community and keep them informed. He emails a list of over 300 businesses almost daily with updates on City and Federal funding and programs to help them through the crisis, fields more than 20 emails a day from local businesses who have questions, need connections to programs, need an e-shoulder to cry on, and for brainstorming outreach and ideas on how to survive this, and posts as much local news as possible about the business district on PhinneyWood.com, such as GoFundMe campaigns and other business updates.
Business-Community Connection Website
To help both businesses needing traffic and neighbors looking for services, we created a PhinneyWood Business Connection microsite – a source for how to support local restaurants and businesses, including who’s offering take-out, online ordering, virtual classes, online gift certificates, etc. Both businesses and community members can submit information to be added or updated as things change. Check it out.
Neighborhood & Community
The PNA Pen Pal Project connects a senior and a kid to get to know each other the “old-fashioned” way–through exchanging snail mail facilitated by the PNA: a fun way for kids to practice communicating via writing and seniors to receive a bright spot in their day. Big thanks to the Greenwood Branch of the Seattle Public Library for partnering with us on this project!
We started a gift card drive to help folks in the community that need the most support. So far, we’ve collected $4,430 worth of cards.
We’ve been collecting and distributing masks to our volunteers and community members who need them – over 300 masks have been donated and distributed so far.
Also, when the Phinney Center was closed, our Facilities Director Eric noticed that our regulars had no place to charge their phones. So, he pulled out an extension cord to offer a ‘charging station‘ to those who otherwise don’t have access. Seemingly small things can make a big difference to those who need them.
Have an idea or two about how you’d like us to see us connect the community virtually? Drop us a line!
Want to get involved?
There are many ways you can help the community and the PNA during this time!
- Donate to the PNA’s Don’t Stop Believin’ Relief Campaign
- Volunteer at our Hot Meal Program or for our community’s seniors through the PNA Village
- Support our local businesses with this handy guide
- Send us an idea or two of virtual ‘events’ or ways you’d like to see us connect
- Join the PNA or renew your membership
Thank you for your support!