BACKGROUND:

With help from our friends at Charleston Promise Neighborhood, Enough Pie’s team has been working with nearly 35 volunteers since late March, who call and check on up to 5 elderly buddies several times weekly. Around 100 vulnerable elders at Joseph Floyd Manor (2106 Mt. Pleasant St.) and Brighton Place (1429 Orleans Rd.) have been matched with buddies — these buddies are first and foremost acting as a team for supporting online medical needs, but they also provide a listening ear, a check-in, and often, a long and loving phone conversation to folks who are isolating solo. All volunteers were interviewed by our team and completed training on topics like active listening (thanks to Wave 4 Women Erin Jones), generalized medical advice for symptoms tangential to COVID-19, and the MUSC COVID-19 virtual screening on behalf of a vulnerable neighbor who does not have access to an email address.

During the program, volunteers tracked conversations with their buddies in a shared Google Spreadsheet, and separately reported any expressed food, supply, or medical needs to our team.  We partnered with Rent Sons, who provided safe and quick deliveries of groceries and supplies to these elders. This system resulted in a successful mass effort to provide a young family raising a 3-4 month old with vitally-needed baby supplies, as well as a handful of volunteers going above and beyond to purchase specific grocery items needed by residents who lack the resources to get these items.

TRANSITION:

As stay-in-place orders have began to lift, we have shifted this program as of Friday, May 15th. While we no longer are able to support in the personalized purchase of groceries or supplies or the delivery of groceries via Rent Sons, we will be able to offer a complete resource list to our volunteers to better support our elders, as well as copies on site at Joseph Floyd Manor and Brighton Place. We are asking volunteers for their feedback on the program via an Exit Survey, as well as to ensure every elder has access to the support they need following the shift of the Community Buddy System.

EP IN ACTION:

PROGRAM TESTIMONIALS FROM VOLUNTEERS:

“Enough Pie jumped into the fray to fill a critical need and made a tangible difference in the lives of a vulnerable population. Way to be nimble!” – Alys C.

“One of my buddies and I have decided we are going to meet and have lunch when it is safe to do so. Ms. Odom is a lovely person and we have formed a friendship. I am grateful to Enough Pie for organizing this system.” – Dee S.

“I am always amazed at how just a little love, a little concern, and a little time can truly change the outcome of a situation. I personally feel like the Buddy System really helped to keep the elders safe and connected during the first wave of COVID. We are not out of the woods yet. I hope individuals continue to be inspired by that fact that just a few hours out of a week can make such an impact on our community as a whole.” – Kate N.

“The Community Buddy System has been great. I have enjoyed getting to know my buddies and help out when needed. I hope my buddies got as much out of chatting with me as I have gotten from connecting with them. Even when we didn’t have any specific needs or issues to take care of, it was just good to feel like we were working through this difficult time together.” – Rob W.

“This was an opportunity to demonstrate what a concerned and committed group of people can do…. very quickly… to build connections with an often overlooked segment of our society. I know each conversation with a buddy was appreciated… Even if we could not solve their bigger problems/needs, they welcomed our calls and a caring ear who was able to listen.” – Vicky I.

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