Published April 30, 2020 | En Español
MARIETTA–Since March 19, Transfiguration Church in Marietta has been participating in what they are calling “Operation Elder Care.”
The Elder Care program supported by the church’s pastor, Father Fernando Molina-Restrepo, originally consisted of calling church family members older than the age of 70 to make a virtual connection with them and attempt to support any needs they may have as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The telecare operation defined whether the elders just needed a weekly chat to alleviate loneliness or more direct needs such as obtaining groceries or medications.
The objectives of the initial calls were three-fold: to let the elders know the community members love them and to see if they need anything, to make them aware of ways they can stay connected to their church community like watching Mass on TV, and lastly to pray with and for them and their families.
The shopping and delivery of groceries and medications aspect of the Elder Care program includes calling the senior to obtain a needs list, shopping for those items and delivering them to their doorstep. Additionally, for the elders who request it, volunteers are making weekly follow-up calls so they can maintain contact with older parishioners and continue to help them through this difficult time.
After the success of the first round of calls to the over-70 group, Transfiguration has since expanded operations to include other members of the parish identified as living alone.
Transfiguration’s new and developing Stephen Ministers team stepped up to make the phone call outreach happen. The team consists of eight dedicated Stephen Leaders and 34 Ministers who were almost complete with their initial training when called to this activity. The Stephen Ministers in formation see this as a great opportunity to practice their skills. One remarked, “It’s amazing how much you can help just by being present and listening.”
Some of the elders’ comments included things like, “It really feels good to know that my family cares about me and is praying for me.”
By April 9, the Stephen Ministers along with the help of 60 church-wide volunteers had made more than 1,000 phone calls, identified and satisfied 30 requests for shopping and delivery of groceries and rebuilt a sense of community in this time of social distancing.
The current program will continue until the end of the social distancing but plans are to continue reaching out to the elders and those in the parish in need after the COVID-19 crisis.