When COVID-19 shut down the state, all lives changed dramatically. This was never more true than for seniors who often struggle with a sense of isolation from their communities.

As an all volunteer/member, non-profit organization, Eastside Village’s mission to keep seniors in their homes by providing needed services and a robust social life became a challenge that needed to be met.

In March, as Oregon began shutting down, our members and volunteers immediately wanted to know, “How can we help?”

Calls were made to each and every member asking, “What do you need?” It became clear that masks were a priority. From this, the EV Village Mask Project was planned to ensure that every Village Member or volunteer who needed a pair of washable cotton masks would get them.

Members and volunteers stepped up with generous offers to make masks and donate money, fabric and other supplies. Within a week, a cadre of members and volunteers delivered the freshly laundered masks to all who had requested them.

“This project really made me proud to be a part of such a beautiful, caring community. It gave us all a sense of connection and well-being at such an unprecedented time,” said Jenny Rockwood, Eastside Village Office Manager.

Since that time, phone calls to check in with each other have become the norm and Zoom meetings for book clubs, coffee hour, happy hour, men’s group, neighborhood circles, current events group, climate crisis crew and more are noted on our online calendar with handy links to connect members with other members.

Our Zoom experiences have expanded to include a book reading by a local author and nutrition lessons to help us maintain healthy bodies and minds.

“I’ve found the extra times we have met via Zoom to be especially sweet and time worth being spent,” said member Derianna Mooney.

With many member volunteers in the coronavirus risk group, we have relied heavily on our younger, non-member volunteers to assist with needed requests during this time.

Volunteers wear masks and do the required sanitizing while providing services such as rides to necessary medical appointments, yard work, prescription pick up, grocery shopping and so much more.

“I’ve done a few volunteer gigs during these unusual times. Although the primary outcome is providing services to the members, I get something out of this too – a chance to actually meet and chat with people (properly masked and distanced, of course). Even before COVID-19, I always felt that I received benefits as well as providing benefits,” said volunteer Gene Ellis.

Seeing friendly faces and having mutually interesting conversations lifts the spirit and keeps us mentally healthy. Shared stories from lifetime experiences keeps us connected and gives us the ability to really get to know each other.

We look forward to the day when we can once again, gather for potlucks, happy hours, lectures, play readings, movie nights and so much more.

Meanwhile, because of this pandemic, we have learned how well our Village concept works. We are connected; we care and watch out for each other; we’re learning new ways to stay connected; and we’re still involved in our community.

Belonging to a group of seniors who want to stay engaged and relevant to today’s world is an amazing experience. Eastside Village provides so many opportunities to do so.

Eastside Village is an interdependent, intergenerational community of neighbors helping neighbors. Members are individuals and couples who prefer staying in their homes and neighborhoods rather than moving into retirement communities.

For more information contact info@eastsidevillage.org or call Jenny at 503.866.0571.