BriarPatch recognizes FREED staff, volunteers as ocal lheroes
Months ago, when the governor set the shelter-in-place order, the staff and volunteers of FREED Center for Independent Living quickly saw a dire need arise in the most at-risk sector of the community.
“We basically realized there was a gap in services for home deliveries,” Executive Director Ana Acton said in a news release. FREED’s mission is to eliminate barriers to full equality for aging populations and people with disabilities through programs which promote independent living, while honoring dignity and self-determination.
BriarPatch donated 20 gift cards to FREED staff and volunteers, acknowledging them for their hard work packing and distributing groceries to homebound people considered at risk of COVID-19 throughout western Nevada County.
Half of FREED’s staff are considered at-risk. Volunteers have stepped up working harder than ever to keep up with client’s basic needs for food, shelter and independence. Almost all of FREED clients qualify for food assistance.
When the shelter in place order was issued, a program was quickly set up to bring weekly groceries to 60-70 homebound seniors, people with disabilities and younger populations with underlying health conditions. Now FREED is partnering with The County of Nevada, 211-Connecting Point, Gold Country Community Services, Food Bank of Nevada County, Interfaith Food Ministry and others to meet the need for grocery delivery.
This will allow FREED to focus on other needs like mental health support and rental assistance to prevent eviction and homelessness. Another big issue uncovered by the pandemic is the need for resources that will help homebound folks bridge the digital divide like access to broadband or tech assistance. With wildfire season right around the corner, the agency is also preparing for another PSPS event and looking for volunteers to help deploy solar and battery setups so individuals can charge the power wheelchairs, oxygen and CPAP machines they depend on.
Acton continues to advocate at the state level and is concerned that proposed state budget cuts to independent living centers like FREED will negatively impact her organization next year.
“This is going to be an ongoing situation for people at risk, like me,” she said.
Source: BriarPatch Food Co-op
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