Posted September 25, 2020
At Catholic Charities, even a pandemic can't get in the way of its mission to create hope for those who need it most.
The staff in Ashland County is the perfect example.
Due to COVID-19, Catholic Charities Ashland County has been unable to offer its Golden Center and Multi-Generational Mentoring programs, both of which serve older adults.
With many seniors not leaving home due to the virus, feelings of loneliness and isolation are often the unfortunate side effects. Wanting to continue Catholic Charities' mission despite not being able to offer the programs in person, Program Coordinator Denise Conrad came up with an idea in collaboration with the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County: to keep in touch with seniors via a newsletter, and to bring smiles through special, home-delivered care packages — the Staying Safe Boxes. In the first round of boxes, seniors received everything from hand sanitizer to absentee ballots and masks, as well as healthy snacks, adult coloring books, knitted blankets and even small pumpkins to help make fall a little more special. All of these items were donated by the following local agencies that wanted to make a difference for isolated seniors in Ashland County:
- Appleseed Community Mental Health Center
- Area 5 Agency on Aging
- Associated Charities of Ashland
- Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce
- Ashland County Board of Elections
- Ashland County Cancer Association
- Ashland County Council on Aging
- Ashland County Health Department
- Ashland County Sheriff’s Office
- Ashland County Public Library
- Ashland Elks Lodge
- Brethren Care Village
- Catholic Charities
- Coloring Book Solutions
- Essex House
- Good Shepherd of Ashland
- Grace Church of Ashland
- Honey Haven Farms
- Hospice of North Central Ohio
- Loudonville Library
- Lutheran Village of Ashland
- Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County
- OSU Extension/SNAP
- Safe Haven
- Salvation Army
- Trinity Lutheran Church of Ashland
- University Hospital-Samaritan
- United Way of Ashland County
- YMCA of Ashland
The first round of Staying Safe Boxes not only created hope for the programs' participants, but they also created an incredible, unexpected result—community connectedness.
"The outpouring from the community has been amazing, and they are interested in continuing to be involved, some asking when the next box will go out," said Conrad.
"We have even received calls from organizations saying they want to participate because they've 'heard about it.' We have had offers from local organizations to help put the boxes together, and other offers, including the Sheriff's Office, to help deliver them."
The Staying Safe Boxes aren't just for Catholic Charities program participants; anyone in the community can provide the name of an isolated senior so that they may receive a box. Community members can also support area seniors by writing encouraging letters to be included in the delivery, as well as helping pack and deliver boxes.
Anyone in the area interested in participating in this community effort is encouraged to call Denise Conrad at (419) 289-1903 or Diane Switzer at the Mental Health and Recovery Board at (419) 281-3139.
The Golden Center and Multi-Generational Mentoring programs are funded in part by the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Ashland County, United Way of Ashland County, Hugo H. and Mabel B. Young Foundation, and Mohican Area Community Fund.