A Covid-19 Update from Our Centers

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 began with calling every participant from every center to ask how they were feeling, if they needed anything such as food, or any necessary household and personal supplies.

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.

  • Some people have needed referrals to food pantries or volunteer yard services.
  • We encouraged all to complete the census, educating participants on its importance.
  • We gathered accurate information to update our database.
  • As the ‘Safer at Home’ order was lengthened, and Covid cases rose, we connected some people to Jewish Family Services to help them with feelings of anxiety and/or depression due to weeks and months of loneliness and fear of the pandemic.
  • We provided information about stockbox, farmers market vouchers, transportation to testing sites, how to make a mask and how to be on the alert for scams.
  • Most recently we have called participants to assess their knowledge of technology, gather email addresses, ask if they have internet at home, and if they are familiar with social media. 

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.

  • We have made over 12,300 wellness calls to center participants.
  • We have safely served, while social distancing, 21,910 carry-out meals (a cold meal that has replaced the hot meal in our Dining Sites).
  • We have provided 7,233 weekend meals to those coming for their carry-out meal on Wednesday or Thursday to take home.
  • We have worked with only a minimum number of volunteers to prevent the risk of exposure to Covid 19. We are most grateful to the volunteers that have taken that risk. Collectively they gave 496.5 hours of their time assisting staff with carry-out meals.
  • We continue to host Meals on Wheels at McGovern, Washington and Clinton Rose.
  • We have contacted our quilters to sew masks for carry-out meal participants that do not have one. Together their talented hands have created over 500 masks.
  • We have posted virtual programs on our website and Facebook page (you can view without a Facebook account!). To name a few:
    • Static Stretch with Eric
    •  Flower walk in Warnimont Park with Chuck and Rachel
    • Sips w/ Shannon
    • Breathing Exercise with Stacey
    • Covid Info and Resources with MCDA
    • Father’s Day video
    • “Miss you” videos from each center
    • Juneteenth Video
  • We have implemented outdoor programming with the required maximum of ten people.
    • Yoga
    • Gardening
    • Knitting
    • Woodcarvers
    • Roselettes
    • Dance for Fun & Fitness
    • Bible Study
    • Bird, Flower & Tree Walks
    • Silver Steppers
    • Advisory Gatherings
  • Custodians work tirelessly every day deep cleaning and disinfecting every inch of the centers. Many of them have made those most welcomed and important wellness calls. 

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