By Crystal Galvin
Community inclusion and equity is always front and center at the Kennedy Center. We have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since March 2020. The Center quickly mobilized to ensure that critical safety nets were in place despite disruption to our core services. We launched a Grab and Go Meal site, developed virtual early education and family engagement programs, maintained JFK Home Care operations, and reopened in-person early education and remote learning supports.
We have witnessed incredible acts of kindness, generosity, and resiliency within our community. However, the pandemic continues to disproportionately impact our clients and exacerbate pre-pandemic social and economic inequities. In response to the growing demand for services, the Center created JFK CARES. The JFK CARES program is a continuation of our multi-pronged efforts to provide support to families and individuals facing the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. Unemployment, food insecurity, direct relief assistance, and combating social isolation are among our top areas of concern. In addition, we have completed hundreds of wellness calls to seniors in the JFK network. These calls have been to inquire about their lives, needs and ways the Kennedy Center can assist them during the restrictions of life in lockdown with COVID. Many have expressed frustration with isolation and hibernation as a result. This has brought requests to our Case Managers to assist with a range of referrals for medical home services, an increase in home maker hours, walker repairs, food and shopping assistance.
As an organization deeply embedded in the community, we are continuing to focus our efforts on access, equity, and support for seniors navigating the new normal. This includes accurate health information, transportation, and support. The Kennedy Center recognizes our unique role in supporting the coordination of an effective COVID-19 community response. Special Thanks to Emily Shea, Commissioner of the Age Strong Commission for her ongoing leadership and support. The Center is looking forward continuing our work with Age Strong, Boston Senior Home Care, and our community partners to address the unique needs of Charlestown seniors.
The JFK Senior Services Department is proud to host a virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Information Session on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, from 1-2 PM. Bill Nguyen, Geriatric Fellow at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Pharmacy Outreach Program, will present information on the vaccine and be on hand to help answer some of your questions as well. The meeting will take place via Zoom or can be joined by telephone. To register, please call Kim Kyle, Senior Services Coordinator, (617) 241-8866 x. 1351 or email [email protected] .
We are also pleased to announce the JFK CARES Senior Grocery program in partnership with Stop & Shop. Eligible participants must be 65 years or older, live in Charlestown, and have an income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. Intake and income verification are required. For questions or more information, please contact Crystal Galvin, Director of Community Services, (617) 241-8866 x. 1352 or email [email protected]