Dedicated group of people provide critical lifeline for seniors amid pandemic

Dedicated group of people provide critical lifeline for seniors amid pandemic

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - When the pandemic began, it threatened a critical lifeline for so many seniors in our area. But thanks to a special group of people, the elderly didn’t go hungry.

Every day for a couple of hours Dolores Hall zig zags her way through Metairie in her SUV. At 85-years-old, she’s not letting a worldwide pandemic keep her at home, she’s got important work to do.

She stops to drop off freshly prepared food, say hello and check in on her regulars like a 102-year-old who tells us Hall brings him his meals every day. Hall is a Meals on Wheels volunteer for the Jefferson Council on Aging, delivering hot food to homebound seniors.

Metairie resident Elia Perry says, “I’m unable to cook because I can’t stand that long, so it’s been wonderful.”

Working right alongside Hall and the dozens of other volunteers and paid drivers is Moe Manix.

He says, “I just want to make sure they’re taken care of, make sure to ask each and every one of them how they’re doing, how they’re feeling.” Manix considers this work personal, explaining, “They’re my heart. I make sure they’re taken care of everyday, even if I have to go deliver on my own time.”

The Jefferson Council on Aging provides over 1,000 meals to residents throughout the parish every single day. When the pandemic hit, hundreds more signed up for this critical service.

Mary Burrows says, “I’m home and people helping me when I used to help them, it’s a blessing.”

When the virus started to rage this Spring, it took hold of the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly. Many Meals on Wheels drivers are elderly themselves.

Jeanne Tripoli with the Jefferson Council on Aging, says, “One of the struggles was getting enough PPE to send people out into the community so they weren’t worried about being sick.”

Despite the concerns, the Council on Aging didn’t miss a single day delivering food.

“For the most part, all of our employees did stay with us and did what they have to do to be safe and go out there and deliver the food,” Tripoli said. That includes Dolores Hall and Moe Manix.

“I can never, ever picture myself sitting in my house, doing nothing. I don’t care what age I am,” Hall said.

She knows she could just as easily be the one on the receiving end.

Hall explains, “A lot of these people that I’m delivering to are younger than I am but because of their circumstances of life, they’re in a different medical situation than I am. Thank God I’m healthy and I’m able to do this.”

Hall and Manix take extra precautions these days, as do all the drivers, wearing masks and having supplies of hand sanitizer as they try to keep the risk level on both sides, low. They say the pandemic reveals how important their work is, now more than ever.

“I have several senior citizens that have no relatives in the state of Louisiana and I am the only contact they have in a 24 hour period,” Manix explained.

Risking their health is worth it they say, to make sure others aren’t forgotten.

Eila Perry says, “The people that deliver the meals are wonderful, so courteous, so kind, so helpful, you know.”

“I know how I would feel if I were in the same situation and I would not see anybody else. To have somebody come and be upbeat and greet me by name that knows me, it’s a validation that I’m still here and I’m still important,” Hall said.

As more people sign up for help and Covid-19 cases rise, Hall and Manix will stay busy.

“We couldn’t run and we couldn’t serve our community if we didn’t have the employees that we have,” Tripoli commented.

They say the sacrifice is all in a day’s work.

The Jefferson Council on Aging invites anyone interested in delivering meals, to contact them. They could also, always use donations.

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