Today marks the 7th month when N2N enacted it’s Phase One Response Plan as a result of the President’s National Emergency Declaration on March 13th. It seems like a lifetime ago and also like it was yesterday.
N2N is an award-winning volunteer transportation model designed to provide a person-centered approach to mobility access across Horry and Georgetown Counties in South Carolina and Brunswick County in North Carolina. And boy did COVID-19 fundamentally disrupt this program! We acted quickly to keep our clients and volunteers safe by requiring masks, hand sanitizer and other precautions on all rides. Our team helped to shape best practices across the area – we even worked with the developers of our Assisted Rides software to create a PPE verification process that was rolled out nationwide. I’m grateful to all the staff, board members, volunteers, and clients that made these efforts so successful.
Now that these new protocols have become routine, we’ve shifted our focus to other ways to help homebound neighbors in our area, keeping them connected to the community during a time when many of their normal outlets for societal interaction may not be available to them.
In 2020, everyone has gotten a taste of what it means to be isolated in your own home. It’s been really tough on all of us! I can only hope it’s raised awareness and empathy for our homebound seniors, many of whom have been living in isolation for YEARS. This has been part of Neighbor to Neighbor’s mission for a long time, but the pandemic allowed us to bring new energy to the problem, focusing on it from new angles. At the core of all these new programs are volunteers and creative ways to re-engage and activate those who wanted to help but may not be comfortable transporting riders.
SALT Adult Education (Senior Adventures in Learning and Travel)
Our brand-new adult education program offered 152 classes for our first semester, all conducted virtually by a variety of local and national professors and other experts. These classes are helping folks stay connected and active in the community.
Wellness Phone Program
The Wellness Phone Program allows vetted and committed volunteers to call N2N clients and to engage in basic conversation and assess client needs. Volunteers can use our Assisted Rides software to refer client needs directly to N2N staff. This helps streamline the access to services and provides an experience rooted in compassion and care.
Food Pantry Program
Food insecurity emerged as a need, especially with volunteers from other agencies dropping off due to the virus. N2N activated volunteers and now works with 6 Food Pantries in Horry and Georgetown Counties and has formalized MOU’s to provide ongoing food deliveries utilizing our Assisted Rides software to help with coordinating efforts.
Very quickly, you helped us by stepping up to provide Pantry Deliveries to 72 brand new clients; you helped by starting N2N’s Wellness Call Program; you helped by providing testimonials for others to hear; and you helped procure PPE needed to provide a safe experience for our clients. You are incredible. I am humbled by the way you have banded together in this time of crisis, both to relieve senior isolation in new and creative ways and also as we create new best practices that allows us to move forward safely and effectively.
Joe Kunkel, LMSW