BETHLEHEM — Seniors often have busier schedules than the working man. Between grocery shopping, appointments, classes and social hours, it’s not uncommon to find seniors who don’t have a booked week.
While seniors are encouraged to stay active, many are at a loss, especially during the pandemic, because of the lack of transportation and the closing of resources they need. With COVID-19 swirling around and many feeling more apprehensive than ever about going out, Bethlehem Neighbors is there to help seniors with what they need.
Bethlehem Neighbors president Gail Myers said the organization has blossomed since its resurgence in 2019. After a hiatus beginning in 2014, the group sprouted up again in Bethlehem with a new purpose.
“We really try to fill in gaps that seniors might have, either because Senior Services might have a scheduling conflict or it’s not a service they offer,” Myers said. “We want to make sure seniors are able to age at home and have help from volunteers we know we can trust.”
Myers reiterated Bethlehem Neighbors is a member organization. While volunteers aren’t exclusive to helping members, Myers said the group asks someone requesting services to become a member for safety reasons; background checks are conducted on each person brought in so volunteers (and members) can rest assured they’re meeting up with someone safe.
Membership for Bethlehem Neighbors is $25 a year and can be purchased at https://www.bethlehemneighbors.org/.
“We are so much more than providing transportation, which is currently down due to the pandemic,” Myers said. “We can send someone over to help you change a lightbulb or spot you on a ladder so you can change a screw in your kitchen door. We can make everyday tasks a little less difficult just by having someone there.”
Bethlehem Neighbors is hosting virtual get-togethers for its members. Myers said the Zoom calls are amazing because members really open up, sometimes telling bits and pieces of their life stories. It creates a community of people who are in the same boat — forced to turn much of their lives to digital communication in order to keep the pandemic away.
Bethlehem Neighbors is hosting two fundraisers to cushion its efforts. The first, a plant sale, is active until Dec. 6. The form to order is on the Bethlehem Neighbors website. Myers said all plants will be delivered to your door and deliveries will be socially distant and safe. The plant sale is ideal for someone who wants a wreath for their front door or a splash of green in their home.
The group is also hosting a Panera fundraiser at the Glenmont Panera Bread on Dec. 8, from 4 to 8 p.m. The form to show Panera staff is on the group’s website. A portion of the night’s profits will be donated to Bethlehem Neighbors.
Myers said the organization’s ability to foster new friendships and connections has been her favorite thing so far. Because Bethlehem Neighbors is able to pivot as the times get worse, she finds members are much more adaptive to the circumstances as well. Myers added the group is announcing some new programs that will enhance the experience even more.
“Our goal is to have people ask if there is a ‘Village’ in their community, like if there is a good school district,” Myers concluded. “We know people don’t always take advantage of resources until they need them, but we want people to know this type of group exists so you can continue to age in your home and have the same quality of life you’ve always had.”