Mountainside implements ‘senior buddy’ program to help elderly isolated by pandemic

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A Union County town is taking an extra step to ensure that its senior population stays safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountainside has implemented a “senior buddy” program. Volunteers can go to the public library to pick up donated or low-cost meals from local businesses and bring them to the senior citizens in town. The virus is particularly dangerous for those who are older, so the program ensures that they do not have to go out into public.

“I don’t think, even in wartime, it was anything equal to this. It’s a first for me,” says 97-year-old Connie Muirhead.

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Muirhead says that she knows that it is particularly dangerous for her to be out in public right now, so she is grateful for the buddy program.

“We did adopt-a-senior. So, we have volunteers, over 30, doing shopping for seniors,” says Mountainside senior citizen coordinator Kim Moriak.

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Volunteer Samantha Grindlinger works for the borough. She says that now that she is working from home, she has more time to shop for her senior buddies. She can drop the bags out in front of their doors. If the items are too heavy, she will bring them inside, while keeping a safe social distance.

“Our seniors are the ones who when I was a child helped raise me, so I’m helping in the same town and community I grew up in,” Grindlinger says.

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“It means everything in the world to me not to have to go out,” Muirhead says.

Volunteers also keep in touch with one another. If someone can’t find an item their senior needs, they reach out to someone else who can find it.

Other towns are organizing similar programs for their senior populations.

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