The LARSO team have some fun during the drive thru lunch service in 2020. This Friday, both centers end their more formal in-person dining and resume drive thru only dining for October. Courtesy photo
By BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
The Los Alamos and White Rock senior centers continue to struggle with staffing and volunteer issues under the weight of the pandemic.
The volunteers at both centers have allowed the centers to stay ahead of the curve by assisting with meal service daily. The continuation of the pandemic will find the centers calling a halt to indoor food service for the month of October.
The goal is to garner additional volunteers who have even 90 minutes a month to help provide meals to seniors in the community as a volunteer.
“The Home Delivered Meal program is our version of Meals on Wheels,” said Abbey Hayward, the Los Alamos Volunteer Association Coordinator. “There are five Home Delivered Meal routes in Los Alamos County. One of those routes is delivered by volunteers.”
Prior to the pandemic, volunteers assisted with this program on a daily basis. When a halt was called to volunteers in senior facilities, staff members stepped up to fill the role. Since July 2021, Home Delivered Meal (HDM) volunteer drivers were once again allowed to assist programs across the state. This took additional pressures off as senior centers expanded services and reopening.
The senior centers, like most places are experiencing staff shortages. The blessing of having HDM volunteers helping as often as they can allows the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization (LARSO) staff to include services like transportation, resuming regular activities, and providing grocery shopping and errands to members.
Training to deliver meals is provided, as well as educating volunteers on the current COVID safe policies and practices, that must be followed by the state agencies.
“All volunteers are subject to a background check and two-day training,” Hayward said. “The trainings provide volunteers the opportunity to see the route on one day and to drive the route, with guidance on the next day.”
Volunteers can commit as much or as little time as they’d like. The schedules are flexible to allow individuals to select any weekday they are available. Los Alamos Volunteer Association (LAVA) will accommodate work or vacation time, even if that means people need to be off for a month at a time. The contact with volunteers and seniors is very low, often simply being the passing of the lunch bag through the door. The important part is the connection made with a simple act of kindness.
LAVA wants to ensure volunteers are comfortable while volunteering, especially during a pandemic. Members of the community depend on others for services and our local centers would love your help to fulfill an ever-reaching scope of service, with kindness and dedication. Those interested can call Hayward at 505.662.8923 to learn more.