TELLER COUNTY — "Vulnerable, so I have to be safe and stay home. I don't want to take the risk, said Aline, a senior citizen who lives in Woodland Park. During the COVID-19 crisis, it is wiser for her to avoid going to public places like a grocery store because of her age and some health issues.
Aline’s situation is like many other senior citizens who get support from the non-profit, Teller Senior Coalition (TSC). “They're scared to go to the store,” said TSC, Executive Director, Kathy Lowry. The result is some clients ending up short on food.
Before COVID-19 the mission at TSC was mostly providing mobility and resource referrals to senior citizens in Teller County. "With this healthcare crisis our role with our seniors has changed dramatically, said Lowry, “[Now] Our primary goal has been to make sure our seniors have enough food to eat."
Former conference rooms and offices are now food pantries at the TSC headquarters. "It started out very simple, a pasta--spaghetti sauce," said TSC Assistant Case Manager, Lynn Lansford. A greater need was soon identified and six weeks later, the list of available supplies is extensive. There is an expanded list of food choices, also pet food, personal items like shampoo, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
"The community has just been so generous,” said Lowry. There was a day a few weeks back, when bags of food needed to be delivered, but pantry shelves were basically empty. Lansford said, “I panicked.” She put an appeal out to the Teller County community through social media. "Within hours we were deluged with wonderful big containers of food. And, I cried, it was amazing."
Thanks to donations and some grant money there is now a bonus of sorts happening for isolated senior citizens. One Friday evening the staff of TSC ordered take-out after a long week. It prompted a thought about the seniors stuck at home. “Wouldn’t this be cool if our seniors could have a hot meal delivered from a restaurant,” said Lansford. A closer look at finances turned up enough money for an occasional take-out type delivery.
Helping local eateries struggling because of COVID-19 restrictions is also part of the plan.
"They get the help they need with 30 meals on a day, our drivers deliver, and our seniors benefit," said Lansford, “It’s a win, win.”