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Meals on Wheels Staff Reflects on COVID-19 Response Effort for Seniors

COVID-19 Response Effort

Since the onset of the pandemic, EAC Network, the largest provider of Meals On Wheels in Nassau County – delivering to 45 towns across the county, was thrust onto the frontlines to help address an increased demand for life sustaining food from COVID-19 impacted seniors. Our boots-on-the-ground effort has been a lifeline by providing meals, nutritional education, and links to social services for many of whom would not have had a means to obtain balanced meals otherwise. “Meals on Wheels is often the only thing standing between our senior citizens and not eating,” said EAC Network’s Richard Kessel, Chairman of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, and Chairman of EAC Network’s Board of Directors. The program added over 300 clients in the last six months. In a series of interviews, EAC Network staff and volunteers reflected on the experience of being a part of Nassau County’s COVID-19 response effort.

On EAC Network’s COVID-19 Response Effort for Seniors

Maryann Buchmann, Meals On Wheels Volunteer

“When COVID hit, volunteers were not able to make deliveries for almost 2 months. When we were allowed to start again, we could no longer go inside their homes but had to leave the food on the table or chair outside the door for safety reasons.

I was worried about several of the seniors because I would carry the bags into the house and put them on their counters and help them unpack the food as the bags are often heavy. I still ring the bell and stand back 10 feet and we talk that way. We always laugh, and say hopefully soon, we will be able to resume normal conversations.

Barbara O’Neill, Program Director, Meals On Wheels

“I have watched my staff and drivers rise to the meet the need of others. Their teamwork has helped us coordinate and deliver the meals every day which gives me a sense of pride.”

Steve Forte, Meals On Wheels Driver

“COVID-19 has required a new added level of safety precautions that we must comply with each day. The seniors we serve are vulnerable and high-risk individuals. Masks, gloves, and careful distancing is important to protect our seniors.”

Mary Coyle, LCSW, Program Director, Meals On Wheels

“COVID-19 has made me realize that life is short and that you should make the most of each and every day. I feel so much gratitude for my team, that we were able to not only get over but succeed in overcoming insurmountable hurdles.”

Meals on Wheels COVID-19 response effort helped Long Island seniors.

On Making a Difference During a Pandemic

Mary Coyle, LCSW, Program Director, Meals On Wheels

We are making a difference every day because we are on the front lines making sure that people get the food they need and that they get linked to other services that will improve their quality of life. I’m so proud to say I love this work and it makes me feel relevant!”

Steve Forte, Meals On Wheels Driver

“Many of the seniors we serve have limited mobility and access to community. I feel that our wellness visit and food delivery provides a sense of social interaction that may be limited due to COVID-19.”

A Few of Favorite Recent Meals On Wheels Moments

Barbara O’Neill, Program Director, Meals On Wheels

“I have several memories of speaking with the clients who have graced me with words of wisdom due to their experience. I have met World War II veterans and more recently Vietnam Vets. Often adult children of seniors call with tears in their voice because they live far away and are so grateful for the services we provide to their loved ones.”

Maryann Buchmann, Meals On Wheels Volunteer

“I have become very close to one couple in particular. Every week they would invite me into their home, and we would talk about everything. When one of them passed away last year, I attended the wake and the surviving partner introduced me to everyone as “My friend Maryann from Meals On Wheels.” That really touched my heart as I do believe we are friends.”

“Up until COVID-19 hit, I continued my weekly visits often spending extra time sitting with her just to talk and her adjusting to life without her partner after 65 years together.”

“While she was hospitalized after falling and injuring her back, I would visit with her and we would continue our talks just as friends do. She had to switch her delivery day to another day, but I still stop by just to say hello and see how she is doing. One day she had a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me from her garden and I actually cried!

Meals on Wheels was a big part of EAC Network's COVID-19 response effort.

How to Help Vulnerable Nassau County Seniors

EAC Network’s Meals On Wheels is one of our many innovative programs and services that have played a vital role in New York’s COVID-19 response. During this time, we have experienced unprecedented demand for assistance from vulnerable children, parents, and seniors in our community. To help us best serve the needs of at-risk local individuals right now, consider making a contribution to our virtual fundraiser, Donate For Good today.

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