Community, COVID-19

Senior Services for South Sound adjusts to meet needs of clientele


COVID-19 in Washington state has left an already at-risk group considerably vulnerable. While Senior Services for South Sound has felt the impact of COVID-19 from a business perspective, its staff is still stepping up to provide much needed resources in Thurston and neighboring counties. 

The introduction of COVID-19 restrictions and regulations in March created what Executive Director Brian Windrope described as seismic changes to the nonprofit’s already established programs. 

“When COVID hit, we had to close our doors, because seniors are the most vulnerable population,” said Windrope. 

With doors closed and operations limited, Windrope was forced to furlough half of his staff. Many employees were able to come back for two months thanks to a Paycheck Protection Program loan, only to be furloughed again when funds ran out. 

Since closing in March, programs at South Sound have been operating virtually and remotely, utilizing creative solutions to provide care to senior citizens. The private non-profit operates as the second largest senior services organization in the state. 

To meet the needs of Thurston County seniors, the staff has expanded such programs as Meals on Wheels, a volunteer-run food delivery service. Enrollment in the Meals on Wheels program doubled to nearly 500 recipients when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

While some programs have been expanded, others have been created to meet new needs of senior citizens. Phone Pals, a new phone call program aimed to end loneliness through connection, has become a way to beat loneliness experienced by COVID-19 through connection and conversation. The number for Phone Pals is 360-586-6181 ext 136.

Sky Meyers, a six-year veteran of the organization, emphasized how much the clients need its services during this pandemic.

“I’ve actually had a couple of clients pass away,” said Meyers. “It gives you a sense of how vulnerable some of these clients are.” 

While programs may look different these days at Senior Services for South Sound, the need for care and connection provided through its work has not changed. Meyers said that many clients are hesitant to ask for help because “they are worried that somebody needs it more than they do.” She encourages seniors to reach out, because the staff is ready and willing to help.

seniors, furlough, vulnerable, loneliness, help, at-risk, pandemic


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