The Lincoln County Council on Aging has been providing activities for seniors for the past 42 years, from social activities to meal deliveries to the home-bound.
“Prior to COVID-19 our center offered daily and weekly activities to fight social-isolation, chronic diseases and food-insecurity,” Lindsey Kelley, the Volunteer and Marketing Coordinator of LCCOA, said. “Activities include but not limited to; exercise, painting, gardening, cooking, cribbage, parties, day-trips, etc. Now our centers are closed for the foreseeable future, and fundraisers cancelled.”
Despite the closures due to COVID-19, LCCOA has done their best to continue to provide free meals to the homebound seniors of Lincoln County.
“Last year LCCOA served 75,000 meals to seniors, of which 46,000 were delivered to the home-bound, and over 25,000 were unpaid,” Kelley said. “Our meal-delivery vehicles travel across 642 square miles, five days a week. More home-bound people need LCCOA’s meals than ever in our 42 year history.”
However LCCOA has also fallen on tough times, as one of their delivery vehicles has recently broken down.
“The greatest need for our organization are meal delivery vehicles,” Kelley said. “Our suppliers are still providing food and volunteers and staff are still working hard. We’re following every guideline, including No-Contact Delivery, to provide safety for the meals, the persons receiving our meals, and the staff and volunteers themselves. It has been a huge undertaking - and this coming from an organization that has served since 1978. We have been honored by the outpouring of volunteers coming forward to deliver meals, but without safe and reliable transportation, we cannot provide those meals.”
Volunteer drivers for the program don’t use their own vehicles to perform deliveries for two reasons; their vehicles don’t have enough space to fit the equipment necessary to keep the food hot for delivery and Lincoln County is still very rural. Most roads are not paved, and some barely graveled. As they deliver to all 642 square miles of the county, meal-delivery vehicles drive down countless roads that are filled with potholes and washboard.
“LCCOA’s essential fleet consists of two good and four questionable (at best) vehicles,” Kelley said.
LCCOA’s funding has taken a hit as well, thus preventing them from paying for new additions to their delivery fleet.
“LCCOA has had to cancel three fundraisers at this time,” Kelley said. “We still hope to host our largest, most important fundraiser Saturday, June 6 at Clonts Field, the Live Your Best Life Fun Run, but if we cannot have the annual Color Run, and without funds expected from March and April fundraisers, our organization is scrambling to have an innovative event.”
LCCOA has planned to host a time-capsule burial event in September to celebrate the community coming through the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the meantime they are leaning on the community for donations and volunteers.
“Speaking from what our organization is experiencing, funds are much-needed,” Kelley said. “We understand it is not the best economic time for many to make monetary donations, but if you are able funds are the best way for non-profit organizations like ourselves to get what is needed in order to serve the community. Meal delivery drivers are an excellent help during this time as long as you, and no one in your immediate contact is health compromised. LCCOA - and other organizations like ours - have all moved to a No-Contact meal delivery system, so volunteers and meal recipients can worry less.”