Byesville Rotary welcomed
Shon Gress, Executive Director of the Guernsey County Senior Citizens Center,
to the club’s recent meeting. Gress spoke to club members the COVID-19 challenges
the Center faces and how he and the Senior Center staff are facing those
Shon Gress identified
his challenges as providing services deemed essential with the building closed,
implementing a 160 page list of state and federal requirements, and managing to
pay for services to seniors and meet new requirements with a budget based on
the needs of a typical year.
Gress reported his
first actions were to ensure that seniors would not go hungry. The Center
offered to grocery shop for seniors and expanded Meals on Wheels services.
Meals on Wheels numbers ballooned from an average of 550 a day to over 1260 a
day. When the Center had to close satellite sites in rural areas, Gress substituted
a “Grab and Go” program in which hot meals could be picked up at satellite
sites 5 days a week.
In addition to
providing meals, Gress stated he initiated several new or expanded services.
The Center began to pick up and deliver prescription drugs. To ensure seniors
could get to and from appointments, transportation services began including Saturday
regulations require Center staff to avoid contact with the seniors they were
serving. That required some training. Staff had to deliver meals by placing
meal on porch or stoop and backing off.
Expenses for the
Center increased with the increased demand for services and with regulations
requiring more disinfecting and PPE equipment for staff. Gress responded by
spending more time writing grants. He stated that in four months he raised
$469,00 in grants which helped stretch his budget.
Gress pointed out
that he is preparing for the future. He explained that when COVID first became
a problem in late winter, people had hope and looked forward to spring and
summer and the end of COVID. In order to prevent the mental and physical health
of seniors being affected, Gress said he and his staff are trying to develop
programs that will counteract feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The presentation was
live streamed to the club’s Facebook page.
The club held a
second Stuff Santa’s Stocking fundraiser on October 17. Community support was
generous. The club has now raised 63% of the funds needed to provide Christmas
food baskets to Rolling Hills families. The club continues to accept donations
to support this project.
Donations may be mailed to Byesville Rotary, P.O. Box 211, Byesville, OH 43723. For additional information, contact any member of the Byesville Rotary or post to our Facebook page – search Byesville Rotary.
Connect with #ByesvilleRotary at: www.Byesvillerotary.blogspot.com , Twitter Byesville_Club, or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byesville-Rotary/256548047818283. Watch the Byesville Rotary Facebook page for details.