The hard-working staff and volunteers at the Canby Adult Center are smiling. You can’t see it — because of the face masks they all now wear to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and prevent this critical lifeline from becoming short-handed — but their eyes give it away.
Despite a crisis that has brought unprecedented challenges to Kathy Robinson, director of the local nonprofit organization, and her staff and volunteers, they smile, because they know they are providing a critical and life-saving service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Before the pandemic, the center hosted an in-person dining service four days a week, which served an average of 80 to 85 seniors a day, in addition to Meals on Wheels and the regular exercise classes and other activities they put on.
When they learned that only the Meals on Wheels program would be able to continue, Robinson and her team sat down and put together a “massive list” of everyone the center served or had recently come into contact with.
The list had over 450 households on it.
The staff started making calls and were ultimately able to remove around 200 names who said they were well-supported by family and did not need services at this time.
The center remains in touch with the remaining 250 or so, calling on a weekly basis to ask how they’re doing and if they need anything.
The Canby Adult Center, or agencies they partner with such as Canby Fire District and Canby police, have delivered medicine, vitamins, tissues and toilet paper (of course). They’ve even taken a list and gone grocery shopping for clients.
“The key is to try and keep these folks home,” Robinson said. “A lot of them are immunocompromised, dealing with respiratory conditions, so we really want to encourage them to stay home.”
Sometimes, though, the only need that the calls reveal is for someone to talk to.
“As this isolation lengthens, we are finding that a lot of people just want to talk,” Robinson said. “They’re just lonely. They’re anxious. They may have family who are first responders or in the medical community, and they’re not able to see them anymore.”
Robinson and her team have stayed encouraged thanks to the incredible support they have received from the community.
“It’s this town, I can’t say enough about it,” she said. “This week, we were able to put together care packages for some of the most vulnerable, and I was talking with a woman on the phone who said she was just so grateful to live in Canby. ‘This would only happen here,’ she said.”
To hear more about the Canby Adult Center during this time of crisis and hope, check out Episode 161 of the Canby Now Podcast, “Hope on Wheels”:
Photos by Tyler Francke, from an April 10 visit to the Canby Adult Center, when staff and volunteers made, packed and delivered 313 meals to vulnerable seniors in the local area:
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