SARATOGA SPRINGS — For 65 years, the Saratoga Senior Center has helped Saratoga County seniors stay active, social and healthy. During COVID-19, the Center has continued these essential services by providing continuous critical outreach, care coordination and engagement for all seniors throughout the county.
They’ve been busy offering free fresh produce and non-perishable foods available for curbside pick-up or delivery every Wednesday, dinners to go and referrals to food pantries; free masks, hand sanitizer, books, puzzles and personal care items for curbside pick-up or delivery; daily check-in and reassurance calls, coordinating care and referrals for basic needs of at-risk and home-bound seniors; grocery shopping and outdoor spring clean-up; 1-1 assistance with Zoom, Facebook & Facebook Live, and the U.S. Census and more.
“We want seniors to stay home and be safe and we will help in any way we can,” says Lois Celeste, the Center’s executive director. “To help seniors stay connected, we’ve been conducting free virtual classes and programs via Zoom for our members, including arts, music, fitness, peer support groups and new initiatives such as ‘Talk Horse Racing with Tom,’ writing workshops, virtual museum tours, and a Seniors to Seniors mentoring program, linking high school and college seniors with older adult seniors. More new and unique programs are to come provided remotely by our Skidmore students. We’re also increasing our social media and online communications,” Celeste adds.
“Our services are critical now more than ever. In the first four months of 2020 alone, we’ve impacted more than 2,400 seniors, matching what we did in all of 2019 when we were already at capacity and needing additional space”, Celeste adds. Mary, a senior, says “It has been a tough couple of months, but things that have made it easier are the Senior Center and their great staff. I get phone calls asking if I need groceries, to see if I need anything, and I can log onto their zoom classes to see my friends. I would be completely alone if it wasn’t for all of you.” Ann says “Thank you for continuing to get information to us. You all must be working 24 hours a day; I’ve emailed about groceries at 8 p.m. and received a message within the hour. You all have been nothing but supportive and kind.” Don adds “Thank you. You are doing a great job of helping everyone to cope.”
May is Older Americans Month and Mental Health Month. The relevance of recognizing both of these in the same month means something greater during COVID-19. Older adults are at greater risk of illness - physically and mentally – during this pandemic. COVID-19 compounds the issue and creates a dangerous combination. Before the pandemic, Senior Centers provided a place in the community for older adults to socialize, grow intellectually, get information, exercise, and eat a healthy meal. During the shutdown, millions of older adults in North America have suddenly lost that community connection. Fortunately for them, the people who run Senior Centers didn’t throw their hands in the air and give up.
If you are a senior and need help with anything, please call 518-584-1621. We can help seniors with outdoor spring clean-up, grocery shopping, 1-1 assistance with Zoom, Facebook & Facebook Live and US Census completion. We are also distributing free fresh produce, books, puzzles, games, and face masks. To learn more or to help us continue with these vital services please go to www.saratogaseniorcenter.org.
The Center is in particular need of iPads or laptops for seniors to allow them access to our virtual classes. Several fundraising initiatives are also in place, including purchase of highly popular insulated wine tumblers and Koozie Koolers and special May Membership promotions as detailed on the website. Please call the Center at 518-584-1621 for more details and follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.