It would probably seem at first that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a paralyzing effect on Senior Citizens of Kodiak. And that probably would be true for many senior centers around the country. But Senior Citizens of Kodiak has maintained an impressive amount of its program throughout the pandemic, albeit without the in-person gatherings.
Pat Branson, Executive Director of Senior Citizens of Kodiak, says that some programs have in fact expanded.
“So we have home delivered meals and how that has been affected by the pandemic… that program is more than doubled. So we are serving home delivered meals to people who maybe should have been getting them before the pandemic set in, but are now getting them and are very receptive and grateful for them. We have had to have two home delivered meal routes, because of the demand,” Branson said. “And those meals are seven days a week. Our congregate meals, of course- that program is not happening. But we are providing curbside meals at the back door to people 60 and older, and that’s been very popular. In fact, we have had people come and pick up meals, curbside meals that have never come to the Senior Center to eat a meal. So we’re delivering about 100 meals a day, Monday through Friday, and then we deliver home delivered meals on the weekend as well.”
But with that said, it’s been a far cry from business as usual for Senior Citizens of Kodiak.
“The adult day program, we’ve revised a bit in that, for a couple of months we were able to do some one-on-one activities at the assisted living across the street, Sunrise Assisted Living. And then with a couple of our adult day participants coming one at a time to our program,” Branson said. “And we’ve adapted to Zoom like every other program has in the country. And we have two exercise programs via Zoom, Monday and Friday. And then we’re looking to pony up with the Anchorage Senior Center and do some brain games as well. Also, we call people and have sent cards to people to maintain that contact, so they know that we’re still here. Of course our newsletters keep going out and our information referrals by phone have been much in demand.”
Branson says that this has been a learning experience. And while the programming Senior Citizens of Kodiak had before the pandemic would be preferable to this, she’s expecting that some of the changes will persist in a post-COVID world.
“You know, we may continue curbside meals, I don’t know. But it certainly might be a mix of what we have learned to adjust to providing during this pandemic, and what we were doing previously before the pandemic. So that’s what I was suspect- it would be a mix, and to see what the best way is the best ways are to deliver services to the people who need them. That’s our mission,” Branson said.
Ultimately, Branson is pleased with how Senior Citizens of Kodiak has weathered the pandemic.
“We have kept all of our employees on board. And we’re very glad about that. Everyone’s cross trained, and it’s really been needed in getting the number of meals out that we provide each day. We have a solid board, we have a solid staff. And we’ll be here for a long time. And the number of people who are aging in place in Kodiak- they’re not leaving like they did 25 years ago. They’re staying here and retiring. And it’s a great place to be,” Branson said.
Those looking to learn more about Senior Citizens of Kodiak or contribute to their efforts can do so at kodiakseniorcenter.org.