In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sound Generations, a nonprofit social service organization that serves older adults and the disabled, is finding itself at the epicenter of the outbreak in Washington. The organization, which has been around since 1967, is reporting a surge in demand for its programs and services since the start of the year. With its programs centered around food security, transportation, health and wellness, and assistance services for the aging person, it is no surprise that an increasing number of individuals are finding their way to Sound Generations’ doors.
One program in particular is seeing its capacity put to the test. Since its transition from its usual in-person congregate lunch to delivery and to-go services, Sound Generations’ Community Dining Program has seen a large growth in the need for food security programs that prioritize the special needs presented in the aging and disabled population. “In June, we supplied a record 20,000+ meals through our Community Dining Program. This is a 70 percent increase in meal requests,” said Brittany Blue, Chief Marketing and Philanthropy Officer for Sound Generations.
Aside from the growing need for food security within the most health-vulnerable among us, other sectors within the organization are reporting similar concerns. From our perspective, this is what COVID-19 looks like:
Sound Generations’ Meals on Wheels Program utilizes multiple satellite sites across King County to efficiently provide access to its clients. Since the start of 2020, the program has served more than 237,000 meals with the help of 320 volunteers. These volunteers have contributed a combined total of over 8,900 hours.
With older adults continuing to stay home, the need for programs like Minor Home Repair, which enables older adults to remain safe and independent in their homes, is increasing. Artemis Bobbit, Intake Specialist for Sound Generations’ Minor Home Repair Program, said, “I have heard from a couple of folks that they reached out to contractors and just never heard back since all of this started.” With COVID-19, the program has been taking more precautions than before, such as using face masks, gloves, social distancing, and sterilizing tools between clients.
“In Phase 1, we restricted our services to those repairs needed to safely shelter in place,” said Alaina Emde, Operations Supervisor for the program. “Now that we are in Phase 2, we are doing most of our usual carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and retrofit services, so long as they only require one technician. Since some repairs do not allow our technicians to practice social distancing, these repairs will be postponed until after Phase 4.”
Access to transportation is essential for older populations, especially if they cannot drive themselves, to get to and from grocery stores and health care appointments. Currently, the Hyde Shuttle Program is operating on an essential-only basis. In addition, the shuttles are allowing a maximum of two masked riders at a time, and the vehicles are equipped with sanitizer and wipes. Each day, the shuttles are thoroughly cleaned to ensure that safety standards are met for the older and vulnerable clients they serve and transport.
“We are not islands onto ourselves,” said Joan Smith, supporter of Sound Generations’ programs. "We are all in this together, and the impact we make extends beyond age, race, disability, or borders." If you want to get involved with a mission that serves the underserved in our community, Sound Generations offers volunteer opportunities for every age and interest, or you can participate in this year's largest virtual fundraiser, the 35th Annual Golden Gala: Glow Up With Us.