While life during a pandemic draws to a close for many, the ripples of its effects continue to threaten the livelihoods of neighborhoods and communities that face unique challenges. One of those groups is older adults—a group that is all too familiar with isolation, increased risk of illness, health complications, transportation issues and financial hardships.
Community members 65 years and older are still reeling from the aftermath of the pandemic, most notably, financially. Financial safety-net programs designed to protect our community’s older populations from the aftershocks of the pandemic are either slowing down or have been discontinued completely. Thus, many community members are left unsupported, resulting in evictions, mounting bills, and unemployment.
InterFaith Works of Central New York also recognizes that people within that age group can become seriously ill if infected with COVID-19 and have fewer resources to keep themselves physically, mentally and socially well during times of social distancing.
“The past two years have been particularly challenging for low-income and isolated older adults,” said Beth Broadway, president & CEO of InterFaith Works. “These challenges become heightened for seniors that face language and cultural barriers.”
Recognizing the prevalence of these hardships, InterFaith Works’ Senior Services Department dedicated special funds and additional resources to provide support for the unmet needs of older adults. Focusing primarily on low-income individuals, the new funding will help its Senior Services Department address many of these challenges through free, volunteer companionship and friendly visitor services; information and referrals assistance; support for digital literacy; English classes, case management and social activities for older refugees.
The cornerstone of InterFaith Works’ mission is protecting the dignity of Central New York’s citizens – regardless of background. Utilizing techniques influenced by a plethora of faith traditions, the organization creates a community in which life-changing experiences and relationships can be formed, while recognizing and combating social divisions and issues.
“Our goal for this funding is to provide additional resources for older adults to help combat financial challenges of the pandemic, keeping them stable and well, and living independently for as long as possible,” said Broadway. “The support for this work has made immeasurable impact, allowing our Senior Services Department to truly meet the unmet needs of our community.”
COVID-19 was a new, rapidly-evolving issue that InterFaith Works sought to address. While the organization worked with its Senior Services Department in the early stages, the pandemic’s nature quickly changed as the world attempted to mitigate it. In January and February of 2022, the Omicron variant forced InterFaith Works to temporarily halt their in-person companionship program – leaving clients without support, and companions without their stipend.
With the help of a $50,000 grant from the Central New York Community Foundation’s Poverty Initiative Fund, used to support anti-poverty efforts in the Central New York community, the organization has been able to continue providing its crucial services to seniors through its Senior Services Department.
“As the aftermath of COVID-19 continues to create challenges and instability for this population, these funds will help create and maintain financial stability for older adults, as other COVID-era safety net programs sunset,” said Broadway. “This financial stability will allow older adults to maintain their independence, do more of the things they want and need to do, avoid unnecessary moves to costly care facilities, and continue to age with dignity.”
The organization is aiming to reach over 150 adults in the area, leading to 80% of those supported with the ability to navigate their lives more than they were able to without the financial assistance. InterFaith Works is a key player in fighting the effects of COVID-19, and we are proud to assist them in their efforts.