05.27.20

Grantee Spotlight: Nederland Area Seniors, Inc.

According to Nicole Cavalino, Director of Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. – a grantee of your Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund Boulder County – foundation funding has enabled the senior-focused nonprofit to serve some 500 meals per month to more than 100 individual older adults who have chosen to stay home and stay safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

 
“Each older adult receives three to five homemade meals weekly, delivered to their home by volunteer drivers,” says Nicole. Indeed, the purpose of Nederland Area Seniors is to assist and enhance the quality of life for senior residents, empowering them to live a life of respect and honor accomplished through nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization, and outreach programs.
 
Continues Nicole, “Our meal recipients are most often identified by our partners – other community-based nonprofits, local churches and schools, and regional municipalities. And there are so many heart-warming stories of generosity, compassion, and gratitude during this otherwise scary situation.
 
“In April, for example, I received an email from our local community church, expressing concerns about the emotional and nutritional welfare of a 91-year-old resident who had recently lost her husband. ‘Mary’ [named has been changed to protect the subject’s privacy] has lived in Nederland her entire life, raised her children in the same home she currently struggles to maintain alone, and cherishes the community in which she belongs. Mary had never asked for help, and felt embarrassed to be in need.
 
“The day I delivered Mary’s first meals, I knocked on her door and waited a safe distance away until she answered. She answered the door in a housedress and began to excuse herself for not having her hair colored. I showed her my grey roots, and we laughed as we commiserated in missing our hair dressers.”
 
Nicole explained the meal delivery process, and Mary repeatedly thanked her for the prepared meals. “She then asked me to sit with her, to share with me the significance of today’s delivery,” recalls Nicole.
 
“As Mary sat on her wooden porch chair, I leaned on a tree about 10 feet away, both of us wearing masks. Mary explained to me how hard it’s been to keep herself ‘alive’ at her age, and as a widow. We talked about her worries and what would make life a bit easier for her – she identified meal preparation as her biggest hardship, due to her limited strength in standing for long periods of time.
 
“Mary then shared with tears in her eyes that she had decided two days prior to give up, and to let her life end by no longer eating … but that to her surprise, she would be enjoying another meal tonight.”
 
Since then, Nicole delivers meals to Mary weekly. “Her eyes shine with what I assume is a beautiful smile underneath her mask,” says Nicole. “And she happily tells me how the delivered meals have given her not only nutrition, but also an activity to look forward to in the weekly deliveries and our chats.
 
“Mary will continue receiving meals and weekly visits, thanks to the Community Foundation’s generous donation.” 
 
Nicole also shared with us how her organization’s operational procedure has changed since March 9, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vulnerable populations – older adults, in particular – should stay home to stay safe, and to prevent the risk of infection.
 
“In the first weeks, we adapted regularly to the ever-changing COVID-19 response recommendations,” explains Nicole. “As of March 11, we discontinued our congregate meals – including our annual pancake fundraiser in March.
 
“Instead, we pivoted to provide several options for meals, including bagged pickup, takeout, and drive-throughs in partnership with the Nederland Food Pantry. And as of March 23, Nederland Area Seniors transformed our meal site into a delivery-only, volunteer-based meal program.
 
“In partnership with our community organizations, we began to identify older adults who had not attended our meal site, but who need meals delivered.”
 
Concludes Nicole, “If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s the opportunity to introduce our nutrition services to numerous older adults who are in need of nutritious meals, but who were unaware our meal program existed. Since March 23, we’ve enrolled 94 new older adult recipients, and have expanded our service area to include Jamestown, Ward, Gold Hill, and areas within Gilpin County.”
 
Learn more about the impact of the foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund Boulder County, and consider making a donation today.