Town Calls for Volunteers To Help New Canaan Seniors Stay Home During COVID-19 Emergency


Elm Street in New Canaan at midday on March 24, 2020. Credit: Michael Dinan

Town officials are calling for volunteers to help run errands for New Canaan residents 75-and-older so that those individuals most at-risk to COVID-19 are able to stay home.

A list of some 1,434 residents in the age bracket has been pared down to about 900 after those already receiving care and services through local organizations such as Waveny LifeCare Network and Staying Put in New Canaan were removed, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. 

Volunteers are needed to help “order meals from restaurants, get their groceries, pick up prescriptions at the pharmacies,” Moynihan said during a regular Board of Selectmen meeting held Tuesday via videoconference. 

“We would like to have a 1-on-1 relationship where a volunteer takes on a couple or a few seniors to be able to go to the grocery store instead of having them go,” he said.

Many of the 900 people identified are “very active and vital people” who do not require assistance themselves, “but the key is they could stay home, given their age they are the most vulnerable, so ideally we want to get to a point where we get as many volunteers as possible.”

Those interested in volunteering should contact Interim Director of Human Services Bethany Zaro, Moynihan said. Her email is, according to the municipal website. 

“All of our town employees and our volunteers are doing a terrific job,” Moynihan said. He said that Emergency Management Director Mike Handler and Health Director Jen Eielson especially have been doing “an absolutely tremendous job” during the COVID-19 emergency. 

Moynihan announced Sunday that Town Hall is closed to the public and that the “most essential” municipal workers are reachable via phone and email to respond as best they could.

He said during the meeting, “Our restaurants are doing a fabulous job making food available and helping them stay alive economically but also helping our residents have some normality in terms of their lives, and we really want to try hard to help our local merchants, restaurants especially, survive this economic disaster that is unfolding.”

Selectman Nick Williams agreed with Moynihan’s assessment of the work that the town and its Emergency Operations Center are doing.

“The way this town has come together in something of this completely unprecedented in the history of this town,” he said. “This is a war and it’s amazing how we all pull together.”

Williams said later, “We need volunteers. If we want to achieve a 1-to-1 [ratio] for our seniors, we need to step up.”

Looking at Moynihan, he added with a smile, “I have actually taken on you as a senior.”

Moynihan laughed and replied, “You’re almost a senior.”

Service organizations such as the New Canaan Exchange Club are coming forward with volunteers, Moynihan said. He added that the New Canaan Community Foundation has created a COVID-19 Response Fund. 

According to the NCCF website, the fund will mobilize private resources to: Support the emergency financial needs of New Canaan families, primarily through referrals of our partner nonprofit organizations, schools, and town government; help New Canaan nonprofits adapt to changing client needs, as well as changes in operations, or revenue loss in the short- and long-term; partner with the town and local organizations to respond to changing community needs, the operating environment for small businesses, and help fill gaps in public and private resources; and support critical services in lower Fairfield County, including organizations working in health care, emergency services, and other basic needs. 

7 thoughts on “Town Calls for Volunteers To Help New Canaan Seniors Stay Home During COVID-19 Emergency

  1. The town’s response to this crisis is one reason, among many, why New Canaan is is such a wonderful place to call home! A big thank you to everyone who is lending a helping hand!

  2. I’ve just heard that Walter Stewart’s is not allowing seniors in the store to shop. Do you know 1) why? 2) what ages they call seniors? And 3) why can’t they set up senior only shopping hours so healthy seniors can get groceries

    I appreciate the sentiment but don’t understand why we would overload our systems.

    Perhaps a better approach would be not to allow people under 30 to shop ( humorous thought, but actually realistic if we want to stop spreading this ).

    • Thank for your the opportunity to clarify. We are of course not prohibiting seniors from shopping in our store. We love our seniors!

      Per the guidance from the Office of Emergency Management, we are encouraging seniors to reach out to Health & Human Services as they are organizing volunteers to shop for Seniors (as we all as Staying Put). Seniors may simply call Bethany at Health & Human Services and a volunteer will take their order and shop for them. We will give a discount. And we have dedicated the hour of 8am to 9am Monday through Saturday for volunteers to shop for seniors. We have been relaying this message in-store and through our email and website.

      We also have been limiting store traffic the best we can to maintain social distancing. At times we are staggering customers at the door.

      Walter Stewart’s Market new hours:
      Monday through Saturday: 9am to 6pm
      (8am to 9am will be reserved for Volunteers shopping for Seniors through Health & Human Services and Staying Put).
      Sunday: closed (except for reserved online orders).


      Bethany Zaro, RN, MPH Interim Director of Human Services
      203- 594-3093

      Enza Albano, Program Coordinator

      Main Number 203-594-3076

  3. As a senior citizen myself I do appreciate all the care and attention the town and social services are giving. This is a comforting feeling but we all need to remember, [Be Careful in what we do in our daily activities]
    Perhaps it would help if testing could be available with the visits of nurses and volunteers if needed.
    Norm Jensen

  4. Walter Stewart’s is doing a great job in a challenging environment. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful, locally owned, and community oriented store in New Canaan. Thanks Doug.

  5. Couldn’t agree more that this is just another example of why it is so wonderful to live in New Canaan – and our town’s response has been outstanding during this health crisis and highlights the true spirit of our community. Special thanks to Walter Stewart’s for all of their efforts to allow us to safely grocery shop during this time and now safely shop to help others.

  6. thanks…there must have been a misunderstanding then, with the senior who was told this morning that he would be let in…but in the future someone else would have to shop for him. Hoping you can get the word out, so people are not turned away..

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