River Forest making sure older adults are safe

New senior citizen task force coordinating with Township Senior Services

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By Maria Maxham

Staff Reporter

River Forest is making sure its senior citizens are cared for during the coronavirus crisis. To assist River Forest Township carry out its already existent senior services, the village of River Forest has established the River Forest COVID-19 Senior Task Force. The groups are working together to support the health and safety of older residents in the village.

Helen Kwan is the coordinator of the new task force and is working with River Forest Township Supervisor Carla Sloan and Township Senior Services Director Pamela Mahn to make sure all older adults in the village are safe and have access to the services they need.

Letters from Kwan, Sloan, Mahn and Village President Cathy Adduci went out to all River Forest senior citizens identified as such through the senior citizen property tax exemption list, explaining the services available to seniors during the upcoming weeks and, maybe, months.

To reach senior citizens who aren't property owners, postcards with the information will be sent to all residences in River Forest. "We want to reach as many people as we can," said Kwan. "There might be senior citizens living with their children or renting here in the village."

The letter and postcards outline the services available to seniors in the village.

"During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at the Village of River Forest, River Forest Township, and Township Senior Services want to support the health and safety of you, our older adult residents regardless of health conditions," reads the letter.

Although village offices are closed to the public and on-site dining and group activities are suspended, senior services are still available. Township Senior Services is continuing the following, though these services are subject to change:

  • Lunch program meals, available for pickup in the parking lot at the 130 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park building
  • Home delivered meals, with delivery modifications to protect workers, volunteers and clients
  • Senior bus transportation, by appointment, for dialysis and medical appointments, with verbal health pre-screening
  • Care management team to help the most vulnerable seniors, and information team to assist with information requests and referrals

The COVID-19 Senior Task Force will support those existing services and provide volunteers to community members to assist with the following:

  • Grocery and prescription pickup
  • Dog walking
  • Snow removal and other non-direct contact needs

And River Forest residents are really stepping up to help.

"We have over 100 volunteers so far," said Kwan, who added that all volunteers are background checked through the township and will be provided with vests so they can be easily identified out in the community.

The minimum age to volunteer is 16, said Kwan, and so far people who have signed up run the scope of age and occupation, including physicians.

"We want to stay ahead of this as much as possible," said Kwan. "We really need to motivate the community to take care of its community members."

Kwan made it clear that protecting the senior citizens is a village-wide effort. "We are all involved," she said. "The police and fire departments, the village, the township. We are all working together."

Older adults in River Forest can contact Township Senior Services at 708-383-8060 to talk to an intake staff member for assistance.

To volunteer for the task force or to make masks, email rfseniorhelp@gmail.com or call 708-613-1642.

For the most up to date information, visit vrf.us/COVID19.

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Reader Comments

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Katie Brennan from River Forest  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 1:51 PM

The article mentions that these are not n95 masks. Rather, we are responding to a need for face masks for non-clinical, worried well patients, and volunteers. These masks will allow caregivers to save n95 masks for healthcare workers dealing directly with COVID-19 situations. We HOPE that they are not going to be needed for healthcare workers. A Facebook Page has been created for our River Forest VictoryMask Brigade, https://www.facebook.com/rfvictorymaskbrigade/. Email RFSeniorHelp@gmail.com to volunteer. Thanks to our amazing volunteers!

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: March 23rd, 2020 4:31 AM

Why isn't this happening in Oak Park?

Barbara Purington  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 9:04 PM

Re: Sewing cloth masks, it is an honorable intent, but may not be helpful. Better check. Viruses are smaller than bacteria, the N95 mask is constructed of special material which filters viruses. Perhaps Housing Forward is able to accept donations of carefully prepared food items to supplement meals for people without permanent homes, staying at Oak Park Temple..

Chris Weiler  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 7:47 PM

Perhaps I am missing something here, but on the surface and with the information provided, this seems like a bad idea. While I fully support the intent to help during this crisis, the underlying prevention measures built into Shelter in Place quarantine efforts are being defeated by this face mask project. Face mask materials are being brought from various locations and introduced to each volunteer's home, increasing exposure to each home's occupants, who in turn, are each exposing the masks. These masks will then be comingled, and provided to the end user, exponentially increasing exposure risk levels to all parties involved.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: March 22nd, 2020 7:33 PM

Are stores in this area doing what some stores in other cities are doing, having an hour for shopping opportunities for the senior population alone early in the morning. It's a good idea since seniors are part of the at risk population. If they have it, is it enforced. Someone told me that it was supposed to happen at the Jewel, RF, I think but they other people were let into the store and there were many of them. Then, maybe give seniors only a half an hour, not a full hour but make it exclusive to seniors. It is smart to do this age segregated shopping, if only for a half an hour, medically-speaking.

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