Our Community is at a Disadvantage. Here’s Why:
COVID-19 is impacting our community the same way it’s impacting Americans all over the country. The difference is that our community is at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with it.
Many of our seniors with chronic conditions do not have the technology or support to access telemedicine visits. They are used to coming to the Bethlehem Center or going to doctor appointments for connection. Now they’re confined to their homes and unable to go purchase food and supplies because they are considered high-risk. Like all Americans, they struggle to get their hands on toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, bleach, gloves, and masks.
Among younger adults in our community, we are seeing a different problem. Just like in your community, some are not taking the threat seriously. Then, there are some that don’t know where to access truthful information and may not have internet access or cable to do so. Many of our families work in factories and if just one person in those factories tests positive, large parts of our population could become unemployed when they were already working far below a liveable wage standard. Finally, many individuals and families may struggle to pay rent and utilities during this time. We have to encourage our community to wrestle between wants, needs, and even bigger needs.
How We’re Serving
So, we’re sticking with our community in different ways. We’re not offering programs in our building, but in some beautiful ways, we’re reaching out to our community more than ever before.
As the Director of Community Outreach, it has been the responsibility of my team and I to contact over 56 seniors each week to see how they’re doing. Hearing a familiar voice reminds them that people care about and remember them. We worked with many partners to find out which medicines could be delivered to their doors and advised them to call their doctors about 90-day prescriptions.
We are giving tablets to seniors with chronic conditions whose doctors have asked to see them via telemedicine. We also have a mass-messaging software with almost 300 community contacts. We send a once-weekly message with the latest information about the Coronavirus, stimulus checks, and more.
We are delivering food boxes to all our seniors that call the pantry and are also delivering emergency care packages that include toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectants, gloves, a mask, mini hand sanitizers, and more. Our pantry is still open as a resource to any individual who doesn’t have enough to get by and we’re administering an emergency assistance fund to help pay important bills for those who lost their jobs because of the Coronavirus.
Finally, we are still doing Faith & Finances virtually. Everyone in the class has been such a blessing, and we’re having those hard conversations about the virus, the stimulus checks, and the changes to come.
Last week Ms. Ruthann, a senior resident, called and thanked us. She said the items we gave were EXACTLY what she needed and she praised the Lord for us. Another senior sent us a card and two beautiful magnetic flower pens (pictured). So all in all, it’s been crazy, but our community loves us and we love them.
All of that may leave you wondering, how can I get involved? You can visit our website to donate and just click on the COVID-19 Relief Efforts designation and put “Community Connection” in the comments. You can also text ' giverelief ' to 243725. Lastly, you can pray for us and share our story. it’s nice to hear some positive COVID-19 news in the world and this might just give someone some hope.
Shoutout to our Community Connection COVID-19 All-Stars: our Faith & Finances allies and participants, St. Elmo UMC Women in Missions, St. Elmo Presbyterian Church, Spencer & Hailey T., St. Alexius, United Way of Greater Chattanooga, Kristi Wicks, The Robert Finley Stone Foundation, Stephanie L., Brainerd UMC Women, Patti G., Carol Kay J., and YOU. We couldn’t do it without your prayers and support!
Gloria is the Community Outreach Director at the Bethlehem Center. She started at the Beth as an unpaid intern and she's been here ever since! She's a proud Moc (UTC alumni) and is passionate about learning everything Latin (including Spanish).
To connect with Gloria email [email protected]