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 Bethany.Zaro@newcanaanct.gov, 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.