Alexandria, Virginia, is a great place to be a senior, thanks to the wide array of programs offered by Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA). This non-profit organization helps seniors age with dignity by promoting independence and self-sufficiency.
The organization’s wide range of services include home delivered meals and groceries, friendly visitors, pet food for low-income seniors, outreach activities and more.
It is important to note that nearly 2,500 meals are delivered each week to help seniors stay safe in their homes. SSA delivers a hot meal and a cold meal every day of the year to people confined to the house or to those who have difficulty preparing food through the Meals on Wheels program, in partnership with the city of Alexandria. Some 350 volunteer drivers provide this vital service. Although the number of drivers declined in 2020 during the pandemic, a particularly dedicated core group of 45 volunteers and some city staff ensured that no recipient missed a meal.
Senior services in Alexandria also helped organize the vaccination of Meals on Wheels beneficiaries against Covid-19, in cooperation with the Alexandria health service. “Each week we would find out when the local Safeway stores were giving out vaccines and then proactively reaching out to all of our customers,” Anderson explained. “For those who couldn’t make it to the store on their own, the city’s Seniors and Adults Services Division allocated funds so that we could arrange a two-way taxi service. The city has been great in ensuring that the elderly are protected from the pandemic. “
The Friendly Visitor Program, where volunteers visit, call, or write to an isolated senior, was an outgrowth of Meals on Wheels. “Many volunteers who dropped off meals were frustrated that they couldn’t enjoy more meaningful conversations with food recipients because drivers had to stick to their delivery schedule,” said Mary Lee Anderson, executive director of SSA. “To help volunteers make a more meaningful connection, we’ve created friendly visitors. “
AARP Virginia helped launch the program about six years ago by sending out a leaflet inviting members to volunteer. “The response has been really positive so we were able to speed up the program quickly,” said Anderson. Due to the pandemic, instead of in-person meetings, friendly visitor volunteers spend about an hour a week on the phone or a Zoom call with clients or notes in the mail to keep in touch. Anderson noted, “We try to match older people with volunteers who have similar interests, whether it’s football or books. “
The company of pets is also of vital importance for the well-being of the elderly. Through SSA’s unique “AniMeals” program, eligible low-income seniors can have cat, dog or bird food delivered to their homes once a month at no cost. The SSA provides the volunteer drivers, while the Alexandria Animal Welfare League provides the food.
“You don’t want an elderly person to have to choose between feeding their pet and buying their own food or medicine,” Anderson said. “Our AniMeals program is designed to take that worry away so they can enjoy the love that pets give them. “
Another way to help seniors live comfortably is by delivering groceries to their homes. SSA’s Groceries to Go volunteers shop at Giant or Safeway stores on behalf of residents over 60 with disabilities, and then deliver the items to their front door. “Choosing the food you like to eat or even which toothpaste you prefer is an important part of being healthy, independent and safe,” Anderson said.
Transportation services that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act are available for residents of Alexandria who cannot use public transportation. SSA reservation assistants plan client journeys in coordination with the city of Alexandria and two taxi providers. One-way fares for curb-to-curb services range from $ 4.00 to $ 6.00. This DOT Para-Transit service offers more than 50,000 trips each year.
Seniors remain connected to the community through the education and awareness efforts of ASS. Each week by e-mail, the newsletter “SSA Connection” offers interesting and entertaining features such as TED Talks, recipes, exercises and information on local events. The SSA monthly speaker series connects the community with information.
In addition, nearly 100 “senior ambassadors” with SSA share news and information with other members of the community. SSA provides timely information that Ambassadors share with faith groups, civic groups and neighbors. Topics range from voting procedures and enrollment in Medicare to managing Parkinson’s disease.
AARP Virginia was a proud sponsor of the SSA’s Oktoberfest 2021 fundraiser, which was held virtually due to the pandemic. “Our financial support will help develop important programs such as In-Home Dining, Friendly Visitors, AniMeals and On-the-Go Groceries,” said Amber Sultane, AARP Virginia Associate State Director for Outreach. community in Northern Virginia.
To support and expand ASS’s dynamic programs, additional volunteers are always welcome, as are donations of all sizes.
Senior Services of Alexandria provides services and information to people aged 60 and over who reside in the city of Alexandria. Postal codes include 22301, 22302, 22304, 22305, 22311 and 22314.
Senior Services of Alexandria is located at 206 North Washington Street, Suite 301, in Alexandria, Virginia. Contact them by phone (703-836-4414) or consult their website (https://seniorservicesalex.org) and the Facebook page.