It Will Bring Us Closer and Will Make Us Stronger
“Bergen County alone now has more coronavirus cases than 38 U.S. states”
Source: NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, Mar 27, 2020
“Bergen County over 10,000 COVID-19 cases, remains deadliest in NJ”
Source: PIX11, Apr 15, 2020
These are samples of just a couple of the many headlines that we saw over the past few months. It is not easy to see that your home is named as one of the least safe places to be in.
Bergen County has been an epicenter of New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak for months now. There were days when the area of 233 square miles had more reported cases of the virus than 38 states combined.
It has happened many times in the history of humanity that after a dark episode there were many bright ones, and there were sparks of light in the darkness.
Since the first day COVID19 found its place on the map of Bergen County our lives changed. From being the buzzing hotspot for all related to business, education and recreation, our home county became a different kind of hotspot. Some of us started to become afraid of leaving our homes to go anywhere; some eventually stopped leaving their home completely. It wasn’t that difficult to get locked in four walls, with businesses, houses of worship, and parks closing their doors, and many events cancelled.
Here at the Bergen County Division of Senior Services (BCDSS) we had to re-design our workday. Many of us switched to work remotely from home, some continue to come to the workplace every day to make sure that the assistance we provide gets where it is needed. We had to make changes and adjustments to our programs including the APPLE program, so they can effectively help in this changed circumstances.
Many Bergen County residents were cut off from their sources of food. Bergen County Meals on Wheels (BCMOW) Program experienced a huge surge of new applications as soon as those who are at higher risk were advised to stay at home. The number of clients served daily almost doubled in a matter of only a few days. It was a big task to handle, but (here is the spark in the darkness) BC MOW was not left alone to handle this task.
Members of several communities within many BC towns stepped up to the table and volunteered for many weeks to deliver meals to those who were not able to leave their homes, to shop for food or cook a nutritious meal. We received assistance from organizations like AAA Northeast, municipalities, and other government agencies. They delivered food direct to clients’ homes and supported MOW with monetary donations. A caring and very generous resident of Wallington donated his entire Federal Stimulus check to the program.
We received and distributed donations of PPE and personal care products donated by Bergen County residents and businesses.
In spite of food shortages our vendors never missed a day. We even supplemented our frozen, fully cooked meals with fresh salads, to provide all program recipients with a balanced, nutritious meal.
Division of Senior Services provided assistance and information to thousands of residents to help them order grocery deliver online; connect with food shopping services, local food pantries and other food distribution initiatives; as well as help resolve other problems, and fill needs they had.
It is very heartwarming to see that at a time of a big crisis like the coronavirus pandemic, the members of our communities don’t close all walls around them and think only of themselves, but remember their friends and neighbors, often total strangers, and help each other.
It gives us hope for tomorrow, knowing that there are many good hearted people among us who care about others. It gives us assurance that for as long as we have these ‘Quiet Heroes’ in our communities, we will survive and defeat any disaster or crisis falling on us.
You can be a Hero too. Just look around.
About the Grantee
Bergen County Division of Senior Services is the lead agency for the Bergen County’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). The Division helps older adults, individuals with disabilities over the age of 18, and caregivers access the complex, long-term care, community-based, health and human services.
Strategy: Social Determinants of Health SD
Cohort: North 1
Funder: Russ Berrie Foundation
Cities: Bergenfield Cliffside Park Dumont East Rutherford Englewood Fairview Fort Lee Little Ferry Lodi Lyndhurst Mahwah Montvale Moonachie North Arlington Palisades Park Paramus Ridgewood Rochelle Park Teterboro Waldwick Wallington Westwood