Editor, The Messenger,

Living through this pandemic has been quite a challenge for us, to say the least. For many of those whose access to food and important services was already tenuous, pandemic conditions have resulted in the limitation or elimination of that access.

That is why I am so happy to report of one of the greatest responses occurring right here in Athens County.

A patchwork of compassionate people, non-profits, and agencies have combined to form a vital network of connection to those who may otherwise have fallen through the cracks of food and vital services providence during these trying days.

The Athens Village, an organization of Athens area seniors who want to remain in their own homes, or “age in place,” already provides, among many services, grocery shopping, prescription drug pickup, and meal deliveries to its members. But limitations and current conditions spurred The Athens Village and other organizations to reach out to each other to blanket the county.

A loving and generous overlap of cooperation from individuals and organizations has stepped up to secure food and services and deliver it. Several groups geared toward serving senior citizens and other service organizations are collaborating to serve not only senior citizens but also other needy citizens by providing meal assembly, collection, and delivery, prescription drug delivery, and grocery shopping to those isolated persons whose access to transportation or delivery services has been interrupted by existing conditions, or who are not able to leave their homes due to health restrictions.

Upon request from The Athens Village, the Athens Sunrise Rotarians began providing volunteers to shop for groceries for members who are sheltering at home. After contact from United Seniors of Athens County (USAC) regarding their desire to provide grocery delivery for isolated seniors in Athens County, The Athens Village incorporated coordination of volunteers to shop, using lists and gift cards provided by USAC and deliver to any seniors requesting assistance. Athens On Demand and the Amesville and Jacksonville volunteer fire departments have provided transportation of food and supplies to Athens County seniors.

Following contact by the Athens Catholic Food Pantry regarding food box application and distribution to people in need of food, outreach was made to the Athens County Board of DD(ACBDD), providers of services to people with disabilities, township trustees, and others who have contact with people in need of food. Volunteers through the Catholic Community Food Pantry have teamed up with The Athens Village and volunteers from ACBDD to distribute food as needed throughout the county.

The goal: To ensure that everyone in Athens County has access to food and services even if they are isolated.

Special thanks to Becky West for donating homemade masks for seniors and to Joyce Mullins for delivering lunches to seniors!

John Barrington


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