Seniors in need continue to be served by BEAM

The senior program of the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) moved forward this year in spite of the challenges of COVID-19 and its safety restrictions.
This ministry exists to "ensure beaches area seniors live comfortably and independently for as long as possible by increasing access to systems of care available at BEAM and other local partners."
At the shut down, program manager Debbie Andalora said, "We went right into revised ways to reach some 54 to 60 seniors we were serving.
The emphasis moved from friendly visitors to phone calls.
"We had 18 volunteers calling three seniors each week. These callers reported to me weekly with the needs they found."
She checked in with Pablo Towers and Pablo Hammock, and found seniors in those facilities who needed the services of the program.
"At that time, ridership was down with Dial-a-Ride, so we partnered with them to deliver medicine and food."
Each week, some 80 pounds of dodo were delivered to seniors in their homes.
The first of May, the BEAM/Dial-a-Ride partnership delivered quarantine kits containing nonperishable food to 51 seniors. These kids went to both seniors in their homes and to five residents of Pablo Towers.
Andalora, working first from home and then back in her office, handled the needs as they were reported to her. She developed partnerships to help meet needs. When an Atlantic Beach senior was without water, she worked with St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, St. Vincent de Paul and Advanced Plumbing to get the senior's house re-plumbed. In another case, she worked with St. Vincent de Paul to get a used refrigerator and a stove to fill another emergency need.
Our Father's Housewares, a program of Community Presbyterian Church, helped with durable medical equipment and wheelchairs.
"Connections continued and needs were found, and there were concrete results," Andalora said.
As things opened up, Dial-a-Ride went back to its transportation mission, and BEAM volunteer food delivery drivers were needed.
"We found many seniors who have no way to get out to get food. They might be paying a neighbor to take them. We recruited nine pantry drivers who got food out to 45 seniors. Everyone, drivers and recipients, wears a mask and stays covered. These drivers have been screened."
In September, 27 volunteers delivered hurricane preparedness kits. These kits contain lanterns, first aid kits, gloves, sanitizers, masks, nonperishable food, a small radio, batteries and three gallons of water.
The one-year anniversary of the BEAM senior program passed quietly in August as Andalora and volunteers worked hard to meet the needs of low-income seniors in these unusual times.
"There's a lot to do and a lot of contact with seniors," she said. "Our clients are low income, struggling to pay bills and medical needs. We even helped 13 seniors understand their health insurance."
The program continues to bring new recipients into the program. Currently, Andalora said 100-plus seniors are receiving services.
BEAM serves those 60 and older in ZIP codes 32082, 32224, 32227, 32233, 32250 and 32266.
Before the pandemic, "friendly visitors" made in-person calls to seniors. Now, Andalora is looking for additional volunteers to keep up the connection in a different way.
Andalora asks for what she calls "reassurance callers." These volunteers each contact one senior once a week by phone and report any needs to her. Training is provided.
The program of friendly visits is suspended until things change with COVID.
"It is a wonderful experience to work with seniors. They are overcome by the concern of the community. They are scared and need reassurance. The calls help for sure. We need more folks."
She also calls out for volunteers who can provide handyman help for small jobs.
If you are interested in volunteering, go to the BEAM Web site, jaxbeam.org, and indicate where you want to serve.

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