WINCHESTER — From the start of the coronavirus outbreak, senior citizens were considered to be particularly vulnerable to the infection. One group in Winchester is working to help ease seniors’ minds by providing them with deliveries of groceries, allowing them to stay put and not travel out into the public.
SING — which stands for Senior Interest Networking Group — is a lead share group within the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber. Last week, SING delivered a trailer full of groceries to seniors at the Active Living Center in the city’s Jim Barnett, where the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging (SAAA) operates a senior center.
“One of our SING members, Ricky Parker, called both Will (Lawrence) and I with his idea. He was hoping to donate food and other supplies to those in need,” group member Lauren Gwinn, the outreach liaison for myPotential at Home, said. “Will and I decided the majority of donated items would go to our community’s older adults who might be homebound and unable to get out to shop. We also decided to drop off most-needed items to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to help those that may not be older adults but still need help.”
The idea came to fruition after Gwinn sent an email to group members asking for assistance with the project.
Within a few hours, they had $1,250 donated from nine SING members and three TVRC members. After two trips to Costco, Gwinn and Lawrence got the items loaded onto Chuck Lehrer’s trailer for delivery.
As with most any outing during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some concerns about being out in public and, especially, delivering to seniors.
“We had a couple members who were concerned because we’re supposed to try to stay home and not go out unless you absolutely have to. But we were taking extra precautions with hand sanitizer, social distancing and all the things they talk about,” Lawrence, a financial adviser for Edward Jones, said. “Our thought process was two things: You don’t want seniors to go out, and two, there are people that don’t have a choice (but to not go out).”
It helped that the group’s project was well-received at Costco and that preventive measures were being put into place there, Gwinn said.
“One thing that helped us stay diligent about keeping everyone safe was the Costco worker taking each cart and thoroughly disinfecting each one,” she said. “We kept the amount of us going into the store to just two of us. Both Will and I ensured we washed our hands and sanitized during the process. During shopping we practiced social distancing with those around us. I have been working from home and taking measures to keep myself safe by limiting my interactions with others.”
Even at a time when going anywhere is stressful, Gwinn and Lawrence said they couldn’t fathom seeing those in need potentially go without.
“Knowing that our most vulnerable members of the community are able to stay safe from the virus makes me feel like I’ve done my job,” Gwinn said.
“It was awesome to see everyone come together,” Lawrence said.
“We’d talked a couple different times about getting out and helping then community,” he added. “Then this all happened, and we organized this pretty quickly. Within SING, we have so many professionals who focus their services toward senior needs and they’re some of the best in the community.”