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Elderly helped with meals, services

Photo by Janelle Patterson Central Kitchen Site Manager Nikki Henniger, left, hands off hot meals for delivery to Nancy Matheny at the O’Neill Center in Marietta Friday.

Her smile could be seen from across the street, complemented by a bright pink cardigan and green pants.

“She looks like Easter,” exclaimed Chrissy Vigneron, driving the delivery route.

“This week she’s had the biggest smile,” chuckled Sara Sauls as she stepped out of the SUV.

Vigneron and Sauls were one of the Marietta delivery teams for the Sauls’ family restaurant, Joe Momma’s Kitchen.

The one dressed like Easter was Patricia Uhl, 87, of Marietta.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Patricia Uhl, 87, smiles as she accepts a donated fresh meal from Sara Sauls of Joe Momma’s Kitchen Friday in Marietta.

“This really has been the highlight of my week,” said Uhl as Sauls handed her a meal paid for through the hundreds of donations the small business has received this week to feed the elderly. “I was thinking this was only going to happen this week, but you say I’ll see you Monday?”

And the answer was yes, because through not only donations from people dropping off $20 bills throughout the week, but also a $1,000 anonymous donation from a Memorial Health System doctor Friday and a $1,200 donation from Waterview Pointe (a senior nursing home under renovations and new ownership on Hamar Hill), the meals will continue.

“Yesterday, after we finished we were looking at what had been donated and we could cover another six meals,” said Sauls before heading out on delivery. “But then today a doctor walked in and wanted to remain anonymous and then that nursing home also brought a check.”

These acts of kindness, delivery of meals, groceries and prescriptions were lauded by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Friday as he issued yet another order to take effect at the close of business Monday.

“I’m grateful for everyone– the volunteers that are making that happen,” he said. “Transportation I know is so very, very important… they provide transport to doctors’ appointments and other vitally important parts in their lives.”

DeWine also spoke to the operation of senior daycare centers.

“Again, our grave concern is about the danger of those seniors being together and the spread of this virus. So these will also be closing on Monday,” he said. “We have been telling these providers that this day is coming.”

But the O’Neill Center had already locked its doors and shifted to distance service before the state announcement.

“We are locked, and even distancing our staff between the two floors,” said Connie Huntsman, executive director. “But we are still providing meals with the partnership with Washington-Morgan Community Action, we are working with OSU Extension on providing recipes and exercise activities you can do at home to include in our blizzard bags.”

Blizzard bags, while usually, a term used to describe at-home work for students losing time at school due to weather, was adopted by the center as a way to promote engagement with seniors isolated in their homes through the ongoing pandemic.

“It’s a new normal for us, and we don’t know how long we’re going to be here,” said Huntsman. “I had one 94-year-old woman tell me she feels selfish because she just wants to make it to 95 next month and was asking how to isolate herself from this virus.”

Nancy Matheny, partially in retirement from the center, said she’s been visiting her 97-year-old mother at the Arbors in Marietta and dropping off letters every day, asking on good weather days for staff to open the window to talk.

“Everybody knows someone in a nursing home, send them a card, or a letter,” suggested Matheny.

Huntsman said flower delivery, or donating puzzles, crochet needles, coloring books and playing cards would also be ways to stay engaged with the at-risk and isolated population.

“I know our R.S.V.P seniors who can’t volunteer the physical way right now are making calls, to check in, that is so important to mental health,” said Huntsman.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

Friday Ohio Statehouse Press Conference Summary

Confirmed cases in Ohio:

169 cases, with illness onset range from Feb. 7 – March 18.

Individual age range 1-91, median age 49, with 69 females, 100 males confirmed infected.

One death.

39 hospitalizations.

28 counties accounted for Ohio’s 88.

New orders:

In effect close of business Monday: Senior centers will close, but congregate feeding to continue through delivery.

In effect Friday: Grace period for insurance premiums. Must provide the option to defer premium payments for 60 calendar days. Employers can defer payments for up to two months. Health insurers must allow employers to continue to cover employees even if otherwise ineligible for continued insurance due to a decrease in hours.

Source: Times research.

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