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On March 16th, Milwaukee County closed the senior centers. Our first priority was the safety of our team members, the thousands of people 50 and better we serve, our volunteers and instructors. Some SOA staff remained at the centers providing the essential service of coordinating and distributing carry-out meals and making wellness calls. They are to be commended for taking this risk during this world-wide pandemic. Some staff worked from home making wellness calls daily to all center participants and worked on other projects, other staff took unpaid time off.
While this fragile time has challenged our strength, we have found some peace and solace in discovering new exciting ways to fulfill our vision while continuing to ‘care-give’ for each other and those we serve. How?
We focused on doing whatever was within our means to ensure all were safe and well, while doing what we could do to continue our mission. Each center calls some people monthly, some weekly and some biweekly. These calls continue daily for four plus hours a day with an occasional change in focus as we realize what kind of conversation we need to have with people.
The answers we compiled are steering the virtual and outdoor programming that centers began last week. We do not anticipate Milwaukee County permitting us to open this summer. If you have an idea for a virtual or outdoor program that can be implemented while social distancing and adhering to safety protocol, please share it with one of the center managers!
Our accomplishments during these past months are numerous.
Now, Administration, Managers and Program Coordinators are meeting virtually on Zoom meetings to create an extremely extensive, detailed and thorough Re-Opening Plan required by Milwaukee County. When we are permitted to open, we will do so in phases, slowly and safely.
It has been a challenging, yet fruitful time. We are committed to all our employees, volunteers, instructors, partners and center participants, to continue to do our best by doing what we each can do. We believe this unexpected and unsettling time in our world, and its communities, has led us to a deeper sense of purpose and a deeper appreciation of the gift of life. We grieve for all those who have lost loved ones. We have compassion for those that have lost employment. We know we must look forward to new beginnings. We anticipate with excitement the time we can all be together in person again! Until then, take good care of yourself and your loved ones.
Be safe and be well.
The SOA Management Team
Cathy, Sheila, Vevette, Lorrie, and Stacey