Bethany Hammond is the outreach coordinator for the Up-Island Council on Aging. 

Ms. Hammond was a week into her return to work from maternity leave when the shelter-in-place orders went into effect. She and her coworkers assist with tasks such as helping seniors travel to doctors appointments, apply for food stamps and make sure homes have adequate heating fuel. During the pandemic a number of new service needs came to light, in particular food-related. The clientele list grew by seven households and the total amount of food delivered each month increased by nearly 1,000 pounds.

Adapting to this new level of need would not have been possible without the many volunteers who stepped forward, Ms. Hammond said.

“We have a wonderful volunteer base. We would find a great volunteer and they would have a friend that wanted to volunteer and then they knew someone that also wanted to volunteer. It’s been really wonderful.”

Ms. Hammond also finds herself making a lot more calls to check in with her clientele “when the baby lets me,” she said with a laugh. 

“We have a lot of people we know are alone or at risk that I call every week just to check in and see what people need. When I called people in the past, if there was a storm or something like that, it would be a quick chat. Now I think they need someone to talk to.” 

Ms. Hammond said many of her clients are also eager to ask about her baby and how she’s doing. 

“It’s still a professional relationship but it’s nice to feel a little closer even though we’re all further apart these days. We’re feeling a little more connected and that’s rewarding,” she said.