March 15, 2020
Dear Mount Pleasant Villagers,
As the reality of the Covid-19 outbreak begins to sink in, it is clear that many of us Village members will find it prudent and necessary to drastically restrict our activities outside of our homes. Whether we think of it as self-quarantine, self-isolation, or simply common sense, we have become aware that the most effective way to keep the outbreak from overwhelming our health care system is to curtail our social activity and maintain “social distance.” We also know that older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. And the latest from the DC Department of Health is that there is already "moderate community transmission" in the District. There are positive cases in which they can't track down how the people were infected, so the risks of contracting the virus through even casual contact are increasing.
We know, in other words, that many Mount Pleasant Village members will be at home, unable to run errands or otherwise care for their needs. Happily, the Village has been contacted by dozens of younger, healthy Mount Pleasant residents who are willing and able to volunteer their time and energy to help Villagers and others needing assistance. Working with a couple of Mount Pleasant’s ANC representatives, Jon Stewart and Chelsea Allinger, we are developing the capacity to screen and organize these volunteers and to match them with Village members in need.
Because of the enormity of the task, we have divided the responsibilities for this outreach activity between the ANC reps and the Village, with many volunteers helping to keep the process manageable. In effect, organizing and screening volunteers will be managed by the ANC reps. We in the Village will reach out to our members and make sure we know who needs the help we can offer. Our goal is to ensure the safety and health of all Villagers and of other vulnerable people in our community who need assistance.
A website has been established as one way for people either to ask for help or to volunteer. It is: http://www.anc-volunteering.org/. A phone line has also been set up for the same purposes. The number is 202-573-7548. You can leave a message on voicemail, and both the ANC reps and the Village will be immediately notified.
The main mechanism for outreach to Villagers, however, will be through the existing clusters. The cluster structure allows all of us to stay in touch with our close neighbors and facilitates the kind of mutual care the Village was founded to provide. We are asking each coordinator to stay in contact with every Village member in his or her cluster. Cluster coordinators will be able to quickly pass along any requests for help to the system we are setting up.
Given the nature of the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves, it is important for cluster coordinators to be proactive and not just to wait for calls from those in need. Unless you specifically ask your cluster coordinator not to contact you, he or she will be urged to reach out periodically to see whether you need the assistance that is available. Because this could wind up taking a considerable amount of work, volunteers will also be available to assist the cluster coordinators in managing the expected outreach efforts.
It is also important for us to recognize that some requests may be beyond the immediate capacities of our volunteers. If you feel ill, for example, you should call your doctor and follow the instructions provided by his or her office. As a general rule, volunteers will not be able to enter anyone’s home. Still, do not hesitate to call. The cluster coordinators and volunteers will be trained to understand what requests they need to pass along to others with greater expertise.
Please make use of this safety net. In this uncertain time, we can count ourselves very lucky to live in a community in which so many residents are stepping up to address the needs of the vulnerable people living among them. Mount Pleasant Village was established to enable its members to support each other in meeting the challenges of aging in the community. It is unlikely that many of us envisioned the circumstances we all face today, but we are incredibly fortunate that our membership and our community are made up of such caring people. Let’s continue to rely on one another, find new ways to stay in contact, and do all we can to emerge from this crisis stronger and more connected than ever.
This situation continues to evolve, and questions will continue to arise as our outreach program takes shape. Please share your thoughts and questions with your cluster coordinators or with Bill Emmet, the Village president, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best wishes to all for safety and health in these challenging times!
The Mount Pleasant Village Board of Directors
Mount Pleasant Village is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization under IRS code 501(c)(3). Our Federal Tax ID number is 47-3338438