EASTHAM — Dorothy Burritt, director of the Eastham Council on Aging, is looking on the bright side. “I think the best thing I’ve seen is how our entire community is coming together,” she said this week.
Although the COA building remains closed and staff are working remotely, the council is staying connected to the town’s seniors. The Nauset Regional Schools’ “Grab-and-Go” program sets aside meals for COA staff to pick up. Through that collaboration, Burritt said, the COA has been delivering 220 meals a week to local seniors.
The council also partners with the Family Pantry of Cape Cod to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to at least six seniors each week.
Safety comes first. Staff always wear gloves and masks and drop the food off outside the home. They stay at least six feet from the person inside, Burritt said, but they’ll give a wave.
“It’s important for volunteers as well as those in isolation to make that connection,” she said.
Staff spend hours talking on the phone to seniors. “We’re calling everyone in the database to see how they are,” Burritt said, “whether they’re high risk or not.” There are 1,186 people age 59 or older in the COA database, according to Burritt.
While FaceTime and Zoom have been a boon for some, not everyone has the technological skills for that, Burritt said. “The isolation at this point is dreadful for some people,” said Pat Lariviere, a volunteer at the COA thrift shop.
The COA board met via Zoom last week to talk about new things to try. Working with the library to deliver books and other media to people’s homes safely is one possibility. So is getting more of Janet Reinhart’s popular exercise videos up online. The council always has volunteers from AARP help seniors do their taxes. That’s still the plan, although the program is on pause, with tax day delayed to July 15.