East Bay nonprofit checking in on self-isolating seniors

East Bay nonprofit checking in on quarantined seniors
Ashby Village member Shirley Jowell gardening at home. (Photo: Still image from Ashby Village video)

Ashby Village’s entrance into Richmond last year appears to have been good timing for local seniors now sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ashby Village is a decade-old nonprofit that provides a network of trained volunteers who drive seniors to appointments, help them with chores and light repairs, and keep them from being isolated. Last year, the nonprofit launched a pilot program serving Richmond seniors that was billed as a success.

With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening depression and loneliness for self-isolating seniors, Ashby Village had to cancel activities at its offices, but at the same time it ramped up its services at a critical time. Volunteers are continuing to assist seniors with essential services such as grocery shopping and computer support, said Andy Gaines, Ashby Village executive director.  Staff and volunteers are making regular check-in calls to members, helping pick up and deliver medication and offering guidance and other support.

Ashby Village is also providing an expanded assortment of live and recorded online programming. Members can join Zoom yoga and exercise classes, listen to lectures and music online, and participate in virtual gatherings and discussions, according to Ashby Village.

“While we may be physically apart in this mandated isolation, our members and volunteers are not alone,” Gaines said.  “We continue to be here for them.  And they’re there for each other.”  

Member Linda Blachman said she appreciates the “Daily Dose of Dopamine” email she receives at 10 a.m. from Ashby Village that includes a short, inspiring, funny or informative item.

“So many organizations have shut down and so many activities are unavailable,” Blachman said. “I’m so grateful to know Ashby Village is there and can assist me with my essential needs.” 

For more information about Ashby Village, visit www.ashbyvillage.org.