Hebrew SeniorLife Volunteers Fill Vital Roles During COVID-19 Emergency

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Dozens of People from Across the Greater Boston Area Step In to Help

BOSTON – Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL), a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of older adults, serves more than 3,000 seniors every day across its health care and senior living campuses. About 1,700 of these seniors are residents of HSL’s senior living communities in Brookline, Canton, Dedham, Randolph, and Revere, and amid the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis have been self-sheltered at home since April 3 or earlier, which means they are not leaving their apartments.

But thanks to dozens of HSL volunteers who raised their hands to help, including members of the HSL Board and Trustees, food, packages, laundry, medications, mail, notices, and more are being delivered to their doors. In addition to an increase in hot meals delivered from the communities’ kitchens, families are dropping off food and other necessities, and residents can order frozen meals and groceries that also need to be packaged and delivered.

Additionally, residents receive a wellness check-in call regularly – sometimes even daily - from a friendly voice. These calls, done by staff and volunteers, are a lifeline and include inquiries about physical and mental health, identification of specific needs, and provide an opportunity for conversation. Volunteers are also covering essential administrative duties, freeing staff from those roles to assist with the new operational needs of the pandemic.

“The operations of all of our senior living campuses have changed completely as we work to prevent, mitigate, and contain the virus,” said Kim Brooks, HSL’s Chief Operating Officer for Senior Living. “The teams that routinely operate our independent and assisted living communities suddenly have roles that never even existed before. Protecting and supporting these 1,700 seniors could not be done without the help of volunteers who give their time and energy. We are so grateful.”

HSL residents who signed up as ‘call partners’ receive weekly calls from dedicated Harvard Medical School students, who offer a young person’s perspective about the current situation. One student noted her weekly calls create a sense of purpose for both herself and her call partner, and that the experience is more meaningful than she expected.

For other volunteers, the idea of supporting HSL was their goal regardless of the task. “When I received a call from a friend asking if I would consider volunteering at Center Communities of Brookline, I said 'yes,'” Brookline resident Aliza Dash said. “I have two friends who work at Hebrew SeniorLife and I’ve always admired their devotion to the organization, particularly now. Sorting and delivering mail is the least I can do, while freeing up staff time for more urgent work.”

As long as HSL’s self-shelter at home directive remains in place, HSL’s senior living residents will be greeted each day by a new friend with a good heart, and as one resident said, “be overfed.”

About Hebrew SeniorLife
Hebrew SeniorLife is a national senior services leader dedicated to rethinking, researching, and redefining the possibilities of aging. As New England’s largest nonprofit provider of senior health care and living communities, and the only one affiliated with Harvard Medical School, HSL cares for more than 3000 seniors a day across six campuses throughout Greater Boston. Our locations include: Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, Boston and Dedham; NewBridge on the Charles, Dedham; Orchard Cove, Canton; Simon C. Fireman Community, Randolph; Center Communities of Brookline, Brookline; and Jack Satter House, Revere. Founded in 1903, HSL also conducts influential research into aging and trains more than 1,000 students in geriatric care each year. Visit https://www.hebrewseniorlife.org, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook, or read our blog.