From masks to shopping to pen pals, everyone can do something.
“Collectively, we are a powerful force when we work together for those most vulnerable and frail,” said Leslie Katz, director of FRIENDS of JSL, who is looking for volunteers to help Jewish Senior Life residents left alone in their apartments because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Volunteers can choose from a myriad of opportunities to help. Many residents don’t have the ability to shop for themselves. JSL is looking for people to pick up groceries curbside at the store and deliver them to JSL as well as volunteers to go into the stores and shop for the residents. “We’ve arranged with some stores to allow our volunteers to come during special hours,” Katz said.
JSL also needs people to make masks for residents, caregivers and front-line staff to keep everybody safe.
“As a community on the front lines, it is our responsibility to nourish and support JSL residents while protecting ourselves with masks and gloves,” Katz said.
One woman answered that call. Susan Tauber, 71, of West Bloomfield usually spends several days a week volunteering at local hospitals and organizations, including JSL, with her therapy dog “Pearl the Pug” and “Charlie the Chug.” Because of the stay-at-home order, she’s now volunteering at home — by sewing.
Tauber made 100 masks for JSL on her trusty 1967 Kenmore sewing machine. “I beg and borrow elastic and people have donated fabric,” she said. “Because I can’t go out, this is my way of helping the community during these horrible times.”
The Shir Tikvah member is hoping to make more masks for JSL. “They need more than 1,000,” she said.
JSL is also accepting monetary donations, and donations of toilet paper, snacks and gifts for its more than 800 residents — anything that might bring smiles to their faces.
“The majority of our residents are doing well, and we have fabulous staff doing all they can to stay optimistic and positive,” Katz said. “At one of our residences, someone gets on the speaker system to tell a daily joke. At others, staff send up daily activity books and check in to say hello — anything to keep their spirits up.”
The staff could use the community’s help. “We’re looking for people to come and visit at the windows to offer a wave and a smile,” Katz said. JSL is also looking for people to volunteer as “sunshine callers” to offer a word of encouragement to residents.
Katz is working with a group of teens who are acting as pen pals. They email their letters to Katz who distributes them to residents. “We’re looking for more pen pals,” she said. “Also, with so many children being homeschooled right now and drawing pictures, we hope they can share those pictures with our residents.”
Katz asks parents to scan their children’s artwork and email it to her. She will print out the pictures and give them to residents to brighten up their homes.
Katz cites the adage: “Anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world.” You can help “save the life” of a lonely resident by volunteering your time and talents.