Utilizing Community Partnerships to Deliver Service
COVID-19 has presented many challenges with delivering service to communities throughout the country. The counties in New York State recognized early on that forming partnerships within their communities would make it possible to continue providing quality of life services to their most vulnerable populations.
Early on, we anticipated the need to deliver basic essentials and did not want to worry about payment, exchanging of money, or using up resources like food pantries that unemployed families in the county may need." says Cathy Mackay, Director.
Cattaraugus County Office of Aging applied for and received several grants that enabled them to provide groceries, household items, pet supplies and other basic necessities free of charge to seniors across the county out of their central kitchen working with their GPO and vendors like HPSI, SYSCO, US Foods, Curtze, etc. The Cattaraugus County Office for the Aging received grants through local/regional COVID-19 funds, foundations, MOWAA, and several other local partners.
Cattaraugus County Office of Aging established a wellness program to fight isolation early on. They have reassigned RSVP volunteers to take on duties they can now do from their homes. Volunteers send hand-written pen-pal letters every week, make daily friendly assurance phone calls, and make homemade video messages from local friends and organizations. They also use grant money to deliver special treats regularly to create positive mental wellness. Gardening kits, Easter candies, Mother's Day plants, Joy for All Pets, books, puzzles, and activities are some of the delivered items. They formed a committee early on just to organize these weekly messages and special gifts, deliveries, and mailings.
Cattaraugus County Department of Aging purchased sewing machines from a local Singer store and fabric so county jail inmates could make fabric masks. The volunteers continue to make hundreds of masks daily which are donated to first responders and essential workers.
"AgingNY is proud of the incredible work being done by Cattaragus County Office for the Aging." says Becky Preve, Executive Director for the Association on Aging in New York. "The innovations and services being provided during the pandemic provide health and safety for the most vulnerable population."