A volunteer group in Rio Dell is living up to the riverside hamlet’s motto of “Warm Hearted City” by putting out word that support for residents is available during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, as well as making home deliveries — with precautions, of course.
When it became clear a few weeks ago that some of Rio Dell’s nearly 4.000 residents would be self-isolating, a group of city leaders — including Mayor Debra Garnes, City Manager Kyle Knopp, chamber President Nick Angeloff and Sara Faught of the Community Resource Center — realized a response team would be needed and began seeking out potential members.
Cue the creation of the Rio Dell Volunteer Corps.
“We’re really thinking of it in a holistic manner. People 65 and older are self-isolating and sometimes they are alone and they might need someone to talk to, to reach out to,” said Garnes said, who is also one of the volunteers. “We’re building it as we go. The bottom line is that we’re trying to do everything we can to help our seniors in any way.”
As of March 26, Knopp said the effort had 14 volunteers and was using a church facility, the chamber building and city hall to get together the supplies. The city manager said they’re providing protective gear to volunteers and need to make sure individuals are vetted and coordination efforts stay manageable.
“So right now, a small number of volunteers can go a long way. But down the road, we may need more,” Knopp said in an email to the Journal
Last week, the team distributed 25 bags full of canned and dry goods to seniors throughout Rio Dell but Knopp said the effort is having difficulty reaching some of the targeted demographic of individuals 65 or older.
“We have to create that registry from scratch. Most in this group do not use social media, so we have to go back to traditional outreach, mail and neighbors,” he said, adding the city will sending out a direct door mailer this week that will explain how to sign up, noting not every senior wants or needs help.
Rio Dell officials are urging residents to heed the shelter-in-place order that was extended to this week in a proactive bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those who need assistance from the Rio Dell Volunteer Corp are asked to call city hall during normal business hours at 764‐3532.
Interested volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city said that the corps will do its best but the service can only run as long as supplies and volunteers are available, and there’s no guarantee all requests can be met.
“We want to lead with not just words but with action. If we stick together, we will get through this together,” Garnes said.
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