Washington, District of Columbia
According to the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), social isolation among seniors was an epidemic before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The physical and mental health impacts of social isolation can hardly be overstated. According to HRSA, not having that social network can be as bad for one's health as smoking 15 cigarettes every day. The extent of social isolation among older adults has skyrocketed since last March, impacting the wellbeing of the majority of seniors. Foggy Bottom West End Village (FBWEV) offers a range of programs and services designed to address social isolation among older adults. Under COVID these include Zoom gatherings on everything from weekly morning coffee chats to programs using art therapy, discussions on current events, educational presentations, and online interactive games like movie trivia and charades. Additionally, Village members can receive regular friendly calls, checking in on needs the senior may have, but mostly providing a social connection. FBWEV also provides numerous services, even more important now, while older adults are concerned about going out in public. FBWEV will also shop for seniors, run errands, offer tech support by phone, and provide transportation to medical appointments.
Foggy Bottom West End Village is a grassroots organization, operating since 2013, which helps older adults in the area to remain in their homes as long as possible while remaining as healthy and happy as possible. The Village is based on the common desire of seniors to stay in their own homes and the willingness of neighbors to help neighbors. Although there are two staff, the largest part of the work is done by volunteers who provide direct services, assist with running programs, and provide leadership. Every dollar received is stretched by the over $7,800 of volunteer time donated to FBWEV every month.
COVID-19 brought a swift pivot of services and programs to put the health and safety of volunteers and members at the highest priority. Pre-COVID all programs were offered in-person and many services were provided in members' homes including minor home repairs, short-terms assistance with household chores while recovering from illness or surgery, tech assistance, help preparing paperwork/forms, etc. FBWEV has adapted many services since the pandemic started to allow for contactless support such as shopping and running errands, doing as much as possible to allow older adults to remain safely at home and avoid contact with strangers.
The Village's mission is to assist residents of the Foggy Bottom/West End neighborhood who desire to remain independent in their homes by facilitating and coordinating a range of supportive services to enable residents to remain in their homes as they age and by sponsoring educational, social and cultural programs designed to promote their health and enhance their quality of life.