The increased risk of becoming ill is keeping many vulnerable seniors under strict quarantine. Their treasured freedom to congregate was stripped from them in March. With the virus constantly posing a threat, many seniors are forced to stay inside, making this difficult time feel more like a long-term sentence in solitary confinement.
A recent BeSafe Plus client’s life during the pandemic closely aligns with those of countless others in the senior community. Simply put, “I have very limited access to the outside world,” Lana* shared. The loss of Lana’s ability to travel past Central Falls from Cumberland leaves her feeling trapped. Prior to quarantine, Lana enjoyed convening with a large group of peers in the designated smoking area. “Now they only let three of us out at a time,” Lana added. “We can’t congregate; we can’t do anything.”
Lana, a recent BeSafe Plus recipient, spoke about the heartbreaking truth for many seniors when saying “I have no friends and no family. I am all alone in this world.” The loss of her husband and son within the past year left her feeling depressed and isolated, with the pandemic only worsening this pain.
With COVID-19 jeopardizing the lives of thousands of seniors across Rhode Island , access to grocery and drug stores is restricted. Getting food, cleaning supplies, and personal care items is now significantly more challenging for these populaces. Facilities meant to assist people in need are having trouble keeping up with the influx of clients. “Customer service doesn’t answer and Human Services don’t transfer calls,” according to Lana.
Hardworking staff members at Family Service of RI were quick to develop and initiate the BeSafe Plus program, which safely delivers free boxes of these necessities to the front doors of Rhode Island’s seniors. Recipients of these kits are not only getting food and supplies, but the additional comfort in knowing that there are people supporting them. Every ounce of effort ensures that “you know they really care.”
After losing power for one and a half days, Lana was forced to throw away most of her food, which was all purchased the day before. Fortunately, Lana received what she called a “miracle from God.” This “blessing” was a BeSafe Plus kit that contained essentials including eggs, celery, lettuce, oranges, toilet paper, paper towels, and more items that would be sustainable for 1-2 weeks.
Lana’s spirits were finally lifted after opening her “welcoming gift from God” and being greeted by the compassion of Family Service staff, who contributed hours of work into packaging and delivering each box. The BeSafe Plus crew provides a service more than delivering tangible necessities. They offer connections and fulfil their clients' needs to socially engage safely with other people.
“Nothing went to waste,” Lana said with overwhelming joy. Some of her neighbors also received BeSafe Plus boxes and any unwanted food was traded amongst themselves. In her opinion, one of the most enjoyable components that was provided was the lentils. Lana never knew lentils existed before BeSafe Plus, and grew to love them. She learned a new lentil meatloaf recipe that was shared with her and claimed “it was so wonderful--one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.”
In Lana’s words, “I felt like the queen for a day” and she would love to get another box of “manna from Heaven.”
*"Lana’s" name was changed to protect her confidentiality.*