SUMMIT, NJ - The Society Helping our Infirm and ELDerly of Summit (SHIELD) will host a 'Disinfectant Drive' for residents of Summit's Senior Housing Authority senior housing on June 4 and 5, collecting aerosol disinfectant spray, liquid bleach, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Donations can be dropped off outside the Vito A. Gallo Senior Building, located at 12 Chestnut Avenue.
Those donating items are instructed to pull into the driveway circle and drop off supplies to the volunteer at the donation table set up outside the main entrance.
In early March, Summit residents Tracy Keegan and Lacey Cotter Rzeszowski launched SHIELD of Summit, a free service to help the Hilltop City's infirm and senior neighbors, limiting their exposure to the virus. “Given the needs of our most vulnerable were only growing each day, we realized that we could harness the goodwill in our community by bringing our neighbors and friends together to help,” said Keegan.
After putting out a call for volunteers via their social networks, SHIELD’s roster swelled to 175 volunteers, a benevolent bunch that has so far completed more than 150 trips to the pharmacy or grocery store, and as a result, Summit’s most vulnerable neighbors are staying safe at home.
“Despite living in a moment of great isolation, through service to our elders, we all feel a deeper connection than ever to our community. We are building new, intergenerational, intersectional bonds. Both our seniors and our volunteers feel good -- and that is an accomplishment,” said Cotter Rzeszowski.
The health and welfare of Summit’s infirm and elderly continues to be SHIELD’s primary focus. In addition to contact-free grocery and prescription deliveries, SHIELD recently partnered with Summit’s Fabric Mask Assembly line to provide homemade, washable fabric masks to all the residents of the Summit’s Housing Authority’s Senior Housing.
An unexpected consequence of the shopping assistance program was the discovery of significant food insecurity in the Senior Housing population. Since the launch of the program, SHIELD has directed more and more referrals to Meals on Wheels and GRACE, the local food pantry, for additional support with their weekly groceries. That was part of the impetus to launch their upcoming two-day disinfectant drive. “Week after week our clients were requesting disinfectants. Often they couldn’t be sourced, or they were too expensive. And given many of these seniors already are dealing with budgets that are stretched incredibly thin, it became a real issue,” said Amanda Greenblatt, SHIELD Co-Chair.