MORRISTOWN, NJ - As some recent high school graduates head to college and focus on their education, while some make a difference in their community and beyond.

One such individual is 18-year-old Morristown High School graduate Sofia Wawrzyniak. She is currently a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, majoring in computer science and international relations. Upon graduation, she intends to become a lawyer that focuses on cyber security. Until then, she has her eyes focused on another good cause.

Wawrzyniak is the New Jersey coordinator for 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, TeleHealth Access for Seniors. Founded by some of her friends at Yale University over these past few months, TeleHealth has grown into a major collector and donator of used camera-enabled devices to clinics like VA hospitals, nursing homes, veteran clinics, homeless shelters, while providing free educational resources like guides and tech-support.

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“I began volunteering with this nonprofit because I grew up around patients of nursing homes and veteran health clinics, since my family serves this community through their business,” said Wawrzyniak, who has been with TeleHealth since April of this year.

“During COVID-19, my family has personally been able to keep in touch with my Lola and Lolo, but from earlier experiences, I realized many seniors do not have family or even access to healthcare workers during this time", she said. "I learned millions of Americans are in this situation in other clinics/homes because they do not have the money to afford devices for TeleHealth appointments. This leads to them ending up in ERs and unfortunately risking COVID-19 infection.”

TeleHealth currently helps over 900 patients and has donate 900 devices through the teamwork of its over 200 volunteers, working in 26 states (as far as Maine, Florida, and Washington), and raising over $40,000.

In New Jersey itself, there are approximately 24 VA clinics, one of which located in Morris County, as well as approximately 364 nursing homes, of which 100 homes located in Morris County. And with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to keep people indoors, such support from TeleHealth is greatly needed for local seniors and veterans.

“These devices enable patients to access care and communicate with their families, especially during ongoing quarantines due to the recent spikes in COVID-19,” said Wawrzyniak. “Local community members we have connected with have nearly been moved to tears thinking of how these devices could allow so many veterans and seniors to access mental health, cardiology, pulmonology, and other critical appointments after serving our country.”

As of now, all volunteers of TeleHealth have a set goal of increasing the numbers, including collecting over 3,000 devices and finding corporate sponsors. For Wawrzyniak, it’s a challenge she is more than willing to take on for her community’s senior population.

“I love being part of TeleHealth Access for Seniors,” said Wawrzyniak. “I believe seniors citizens are a generation that we shouldn’t forget and we should support them as they raised us. Especially during the COVID-19, it’s risky for them to leave home, so they really need these devices to connect with their family members and doctors. Even when the pandemic passes, TeleHealth will continue to support them.”

For more information on TeleHealth Access for Seniors, visit their website at https://www.telehealthforseniors.org/.

As for getting involved and donate a device to the non-profit’s cause, visit the web link to see their device donation form at https://forms.gle/ESCcziYYB9nsdqY49. And to donate funds to TeleHealth, visit their GoFundMe webpage at https://www.gofundme.com/telehealth-access-for-seniors?pc=em_dn_contacts_r&rcid=r01-159120331413-5ab392ff3a4a472d&member=4544210.

In the meantime, as she attends her classes in Philadelphia, Wawrzyniak believes it’s all about people connecting with each other. Because as the COVID-19 threat continues to keep people indoors, it should not separate them from those they love and support.

“While our short term goals include device collection, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment, our long term goals include connecting young people to senior citizens for companionship, bringing digital connectivity to rural areas, and lobbying for TeleHealth support in Congress,” said Wawrzyniak .“Within our organization, we have been working hard these past few weeks to develop a tech support branch and technology guides in more than six different languages. This is all in effort to ensure seniors not only receive devices, but understand how to use them and can use them when needed.”

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