For Release April 14, 2020
Isolated Maybe, But Seniors Need Not Be Alone
Contact: Andy Gaines 510-204-9200
When almost everyone is hunkering down, it might seem like an odd time to go all out to ramp up an organization’s activities. Yet that’s just what one East Bay non-profit is doing to help meet the needs of older adults.
At first, when the shelter-in-place began several weeks ago, Ashby Village, not a “where elders live (in their homes and communities), but how”, decided its staff would work from home and cut back to limited activity. But it quickly became obvious that what they offer older adults every day is exactly what was needed. Their infrastructure— an active network of trained volunteers, a broad range of activities to help older adults stay engaged and active in their own homes and even a phone pal system—was perfect for the challenge facing everyone.
“While we may be physically apart in this mandated isolation, our members and volunteers are not alone. Ashby Village volunteers continue to assist members with essential services such as grocery shopping, and computer support. Staff and volunteers are making regular check in calls to our members, medication pick-up and delivery, and are available for guidance and support,” says Andy Gaines, the organization’s executive director. “We continue to be here for them. And they’re there for each other.” The village serves Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond and parts of Oakland.
In fact, according to Gaines, Ashby Village, one of hundreds of virtual villages across the country, now offers an expanded assortment of live and recorded online programming. Members can join Zoom yoga and exercise classes, listen to lectures and music online, and participate in virtual gatherings and discussions.
“Our members are used to being engaged, going out, participating and interacting,” he says. “We already have the well-established relationships and tools for making that happen”.
Linda Blachman, an Ashby Village member, says she’s been delighted that she can stay connected and feel supported. “So many organizations have shut down and so many activities are unavailable. I’m so grateful to know Ashby Village is there and can assist me with my essential needs.” She also appreciates that every morning at 10am she gets an Ashby Village “Daily Dose of Dopamine” email with a short, inspiring, funny or informative item that starts her day on a positive note.
During “ordinary times”, the Village conducts living room chats to let prospective members and volunteers hear more about Ashby Village, ask questions and meet Village members. With a little tweaking (now each guest is in their own living room) those chats are continuing. (East Bay residents interested in attending a chat by phone or on Zoom, should go to our calendar at www.ashbyvillage.org)
“We never thought we’d be doing so many activities online,” concludes Gaines. “For some of our members, it’s their first time really using a computer. This has been a great opportunity to provide them with technical support to help them connect with their families, friends and even medical providers. Some of them are ‘immigrants’ to the internet, others have hearing and vision loss, and they really appreciate the patient and tailored coaching we are giving them”.
To arrange to speak with Ashby Village staff, members and volunteers call 510-204-9200 or write email@example.com.
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