DEL MAR – Del Mar Community Connections has been an anchor of support for local seniors in Del Mar for 20 years – so it’s no surprise the organization has sprung into action in this precarious age of COVID-19.
Although many of their regular social programs have been put on hold, the organization is kicking it into high gear with deliveries, neighbor check-in’s and supply collections, according to Program Director Ashley Simpkins.
DMCC is asking for help with these services from the community at large – particularly from individuals who are less at risk for severe illness as a result of the disease, commonly referred to as coronavirus. They are also urging seniors or disabled members of the community to reach out and ask for help if they need it.
DMCC is asking locals to drop off supplies such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies and paper towels – for residents who can’t get a hold of those items themselves (scroll down for details).
They are harnessing younger, less at-risk volunteers for “gopher services” – running to the store for groceries, or the pharmacy for medication. Volunteers will be under strict orders to knock, leave these items on residents’ doorsteps and walk away.
Simpkins said the organization has posted forms online, so seniors can make requests for supplies they might need, and volunteers can help deliver the supplies or help with other services (scroll down for links).
Many of the organization’s existing volunteers are above the age of 65 – so in order to keep them safe, these volunteers are mostly helping with “friendly neighbor services.” This means keeping an open stream of communication with especially vulnerable residents who might be prone to isolation, and giving them a phone call to make sure everyone is “happy and healthy.”
When it comes to COVID-19, older adults are considered a particularly high-risk population, and throughout the country, seniors above the age of 65 are being told to stay indoors. This mandate is particularly relevant in Del Mar, where, as of the 2010 census, about 32% of the population is above the age of 60.
Simpkins said the organization’s small team has been carefully watching and preparing for the realities of COVID-19 for about a month, trying to adapt to the constantly changing circumstances.
“The needs that (area seniors) have are changing rapidly, and the means to address them are also changing rapidly,” said Simpkins.
Beyond their immediate efforts, DMCC is in talks with area restaurants about doing meal delivery, so seniors and disabled members of the community can have access to fresh meals.
The organization is also looking into replacing their now canceled social events with remote programming – community members have reached out with ideas to do monthly sing-a-longs, for example. Simpkins said she hopes residents and local good Samaritans will keep the ideas coming.
“People are constantly coming to us with incredible new ideas, and I’m sure there will be a need out there that we haven’t yet anticipated,” Simpkins said.
If you are a senior or disabled resident in Del Mar in need of supplies, fill out this form: https://www.dmcc.cc/covid-19-supply-request.
To become a volunteer for DMCC, visit this form: https://www.dmcc.cc/covid-19-volunteer-registration
If you’d like to donate supplies, the organization is collecting hand sanitizer, hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, disinfectant products and tissues. They ask that donators call (858) 792-7565 or email [email protected] in advance and drop off the items at the Del Mar community building, located at 225 9th Street; Del Mar, CA. 92014.