This is a historical moment for Heart2Heart and the seniors in Broward County.
This month, Heart2Heart began providing outreach to the seniors receiving home-delivered meals through the Older Americans Act Nutrition Services Program.
This federally funded program, often associated with Meals on Wheels, has changed in Broward County. ← For a more detailed explanation of the program, be sure to check out that link to my last article.
Now, when a Broward County senior requests weekly meal deliveries, Heart2Heart is one of the outreach providers who will call them to assess their needs.
The changes to the program are important for two reasons:
- Broward County’s pilot program offers seniors more meal choices.
- Heart2Heart’s involvement allows us to provide more services — beyond meal delivery — to more homebound seniors.
The importance of choice
At Heart2Heart, we believe in empowering seniors to make their own choices. We teach our volunteers to serve with person-centered care.
We encourage our volunteers to support their senior friend, even if they don’t agree with the final choice.
For example, we occasionally provide groceries for seniors in a financial crisis, using funds from our 4.1.1. Initiative. We’ll ask the senior to send us a list of groceries they need.
We don’t edit the person’s list — even if they’ve included ice cream and Oreo cookies. We believe in allowing seniors the dignity to decide how they want to live.
That’s why we were excited when the Area Agency on Aging in Broward County prioritized choice in its request for proposals, asking providers for nutritionally sound, tasty and culturally diverse options.
Now seniors will select one of four different menus when they request home-delivered meals.
We hope they pick the fresh food options offered by Sushi Maki Catering or Offerdahl’s Off-The-Grill. When they do, Heart2Heart will reach out and connect with them.
More services to homebound seniors
Our ultimate goal is to help more seniors in need. I see our role in this program as a gateway to offering other services.
We intend to keep all of our other outreach efforts to seniors going, right alongside this new responsibility.
Our job within the meal delivery program is to provide the first contact, visiting the seniors to assess their need. The program requires us to gather a lot of information, primarily about demographics, mobility and available resources.
Seniors love talking to our volunteers and staff, especially when we visit their home. We never know where the conversation will take us.
They might tell us about a suspicious email they received. We can suggest our C.A.R.E. Tech programs that teach seniors to how avoid phishing schemes and scams.
Or we might see that their family caregiver is overwhelmed and needs a few hours to run errands or take a mental health break. That’s where our Relief C.A.R.E. comes in.
The senior might talk about feeling isolated or lonely. We can pair them with a volunteer to visit each week.
Potentially, our partnership with Offerdahl’s and Sushi Maki Catering could provide meals to about 500 seniors per week.
That’s 500 more seniors we could impact through our programs and through new friendships with our volunteers.
How you can help
As a nonprofit, we will continue to rely on the community for support.
With our growing outreach into the community, we will need more volunteers to connect with seniors and meet their individual needs.
Even though we are hiring new staff, our volunteers enrich everything we provide for seniors. Volunteers are how we reach so many seniors every month.
Heart2Heart is also raising $150,000 over the next few months. This will help us expand to serve hundreds more seniors per month.
The funds will cover new volunteer and staff training, additional resources for the new seniors we encounter and our expanding infrastructure as we move into bigger offices.
It’s a big goal, but our community of supporters and volunteers has proved reliable again and again.
Click here to donate to our efforts.
To become a volunteer, submit an application here.
On behalf of the seniors you’re about to impact with person-centered care, thank you!