Now considered a global pandemic, seniors are advised to stay home and avoid group activities due to their vulnerability and the high risk of being exposed to COVID-19. To prevent malnutrition and hunger, two local organizations are partnering to provide elderly with services while being isolated.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Sunday that seniors ages 65 and older and those with chronic conditions are being advised to practice isolation. Those most vulnerable to the coronavirus can receive mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough, while those high at risk are likelier to experience serious symptoms coupled with illnesses like pneumonia.
“The most important thing is to focus on the vulnerable and prioritize their safety,” Newsom said.
Newsom expressed the urgency of the need of volunteers to help those isolated.
“We need people to be able to pick up food. We need people to have food delivered. We need the capacity to meet the needs of our population,” Newsom said. “That we still can be productive and to the extent we feel like we have the capacity to deliver for 40 million people, their meals, their basic necessities. We may then make additional adjustments, but for the moment, we feel this is an appropriate adjustment.”
Locally, those efforts were already underway.
Last week, Mighty Underdogs (MUD) and the Malibu Foundation created a rapid response program to provide door-to-door services to those who are most vulnerable and most impacted here in Malibu.
Founder and president of Mighty Underdogs Tim Hazelip said MUD volunteers wanted to help their local community during this time. MUD leadership reached out to the Malibu Foundation and the two groups began.
Normally a surf therapy nonprofit, MUD was able to mobilize its volunteer network to begin collecting and distributing supplies. Hazelip said that by Tuesday, March 17, they had about 15 to 20 members helping.
“Now, we have a little team together of people answering us on Instagram and seeing comments; we’ve had a lot of people even just walking around that have seen it and getting a pat on the back, saying, ‘Thanks for helping the community,’” Hazelip said. “I’m having a great time doing it.”
Malibu Foundation Execuive Director Evelin Weber said the community’s two main needs are groceries and prescriptions.
“In partnership with Mighty Underdogs, we are providing a delivery system for those that are socially isolating and who’s immunocompromised or aren’t able to get around—the more vulnerable population—and supporting them,” Weber said.
Weber said before Newsom’s announcement, they have been organizing and planning ways to help those in need but also taking precautions with their volunteers’ safety.
“Fortunately, we started this program before anything was announced. We’re very fortunate to be able to provide these services to support the elderly,” Weber said. “We’re taking extra precautions to make sure that we’re not compromising ourselves, but they [volunteers] are the ones that are really on the ground.”
To provide those with the most urgency, seniors can fill out a form that asks what supplies are needed and their urgency, medium or low.
“What we’ve done is we’ve connected with Whole Foods and Vintage Grocers to let us know when a shipment comes in, so we’re able to get groceries.” Weber said. “We can’t promise but we’ll do our best.”
Weber said they are supporting individuals who have been affected by the Woolsey Fire both in Malibu and in surrounding communities such as Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Malibou Lake and Seminole Springs.
“There are two things in times of crises like the Woolsey Fire and now COVID-19, we have to be there for the most vulnerable,” Weber said. “Sometimes, it takes a village to take care of a village. We feel very grateful with a partnership with Mighty Underdogs who are really in the front line to be able to support our elders and those who are sick.”
Anyone interested in using this service can visit themalibufoundation.org/cv19 or text COVID to 833.407.0117. Information will remain confidential.
Those interested in donating to help with the cause may do so by visiting themalibufoundation.org/cv19relief.