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From Zoom to Zip Code: How to Access Things You Need
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From Zoom to Zip Code: How to Access Things You Need

Remember when Zoom conjured up a zip code:  Oh two ONE three FOUR sung brightly on a PBS television program?

Today Zoom virtual meetings convene samaritans who share ways to connect zip codes to critical services that may be lacking due to COVID19.

If you are hungry, need medicine or PPE remember Aunt Bertha,  Invisible Hands, NCOA BenefitsCheckUp®, AARP or simply: YANA  - You are not alone.  

“We’re pulling together,” Yale college student Liam Elkind inspired volunteers gathered on a global Saturday morning Zoom, and, “by pulling together, we’re able to pull through.”

If you lack food (or the means to pay for it) go to Aunt Bertha — a source recommended by the AARP, a Washington DC Mayor's task force and capital area food waste warriors like Kate Urbank of Food Rescue US and Jackie Wincek of DC Central Kitchen. AuntBertha.com can help you find free food or reduced cost services like medical care or job training anywhere in the US. (A Leaders in Energy circular economy Google Group particularly like that idea as it feeds more people while minimizing waste.)

Aging Advocates Abound

In addition to promoting Aunt Bertha, the Washington DC Mayors Age Friendly Task Force also suggests other services you can get via your zip code. Longtime DC Age-Friendly coordinator Gail Kohn recommends typing the zip to go to:

•    Libraries, which have free distance learning including audio books and book deliveries.
•    Iona Senior Services Around Town DC  has virtual opportunities including learning Zoom skills
•    Metropolitan police to get local crime stats. Thankfully, these are “mostly down except for auto thefts,” Kohn reports.

Looking for safe exercise destinations?
•    In DC 311 is still ready to take reports of walkability and safety issues on sidewalks and streets to ensure accessibility and prevent falls
•    ParkRx, will give you nearest parks, like national Rock Creek Park, that are open for exercise

National Council on Aging continues to offer its valuable government benefits checkup organized by zip code and other inputs. Due to COVID19 AARP Innovation Lab set up a Community Connections portal to centralize the voluntarism and ensure people feeling overwhelmed or anxious could receive attention, even if they are not AARP members.

Services like these are available not just because people are hungry. Amidst this isolating time, Alison Gardy of the NY Chapter of  the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance (YANA) and Yale Community Connect commented via Zoom on May 9, the 12th annual Yale Day of Service, that people are hungry to help year- round if needed.

Dr. Xiaoyan Huang, of the Yale Alumni Association Board of Governors, welcomed  Invisible Hands, a new NY/NJ nonprofit paid service formed by twentysomethings worried about elders’ vulnerability to COVID 19. Invisible Hands including those of Elkind , delivered 4000 meals and groceries to NJ, NYC, Long Island and Westchester this year. The Yale Day of Service typically happens in 250 places internationally with up to 2500 volunteers.

Targeting Resources

Volunteers may join Get Out the Vote efforts providing information about securing mail in ballots, and Gods Love We Deliver, a nondenominational nonprofit, that delivers medically tailored nutritious meals.

As some zip codes, for example in Buffalo, are experiencing 88 percent higher COVID cases than others, organizers cautioned it is important that people operate safely. Gardy noted, “When a community lets you in, it’s an act of trust. “

Invisible Hands volunteers trust Captain PPE, the Slack Avatar, to find the live person with a stash of masks ready for delivery. And recipients trust those showing up with contactless groceries to be healthy and masked. Organizations  like DOROT – a Generations United award winner — that used to take visitors are now mobilizing thousands of volunteers to make Caring Calls and Cards for people.

Sweet Kindness

Myriad acts of kindness are bringing generations together. On one delivery Elkind met Carol, a global arts educator, and Fulbright Scholar, from a social distance. Carol, a friendly puppeteer, who had conducted arts education workshops in Uganda and India wanted to reciprocate the delivery with home baked goods, but due to restrictions Elkind had to decline. She replied when this is over, you’re coming over for tea and cookies.

On Saturday Elkin told Yale alums, being an Invisible Hand helped him recognize that he and Carol belong to the same Steven Wise Synagogue. About sharing tea and cookies, Elkin offered, I’m really looking forward to that day.

The undergraduate didn’t know of the ‘70s Zoom program. But his parents still remembered the zip code jingle.  It’s a lesson of Aging Mastery, if you put any zip code to a tune, you may never forget it.

Ilyse Veron, an innovation consultant, explores health, aging, leadership challenges, and opportunities of the longevity economy from the nation's capital. As communication has been her speciality since earning degrees from Yale University and Georgetown's McDonough School of Business and reporting for the PBS NewsHour, she shapes content and grows networks of organizations like Darmiyan,  ForbesWomen on Slack, the Age-Friendly DC Financial Security Task Force Committee, the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance (YANA), Wharton DC Innovation Summit, Longevity Venture Summit, Leaders in Energy, PFNCA, Georgetown University Masters in Aging and Health, AARP, NCOA and others.

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