By: Jennifer Atwood, Managing Director of Development and Communications, Visiting Nurse Association of Texas
About Visiting Nurse Association of Texas (VNA): The Visiting Nurse Association of Texas (VNA) helps people age with dignity and independence at home and has remained steadfast in its mission to serve the most vulnerable, the elderly and seriously ill despite the pandemic.
How has your organization pivoted/adapted during the pandemic?
Prior to COVID-19, it was estimated approximately 15% of Dallas County seniors (more than 17,500) lived below the poverty line (Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, 2018). These are the hidden hungry—homebound, aging and unable to access resources like food pantries and grocery stores. As the frightening reality of COVID-19 has touched this high-risk community, many are left without the previous social and economic support provided by family members, friends and neighbors. These seniors are now more isolated and alone than before the pandemic and VNA Meals on Wheels has been there ensuring they are fed and cared for during such uncertain times.
Additionally, VNA began “virtual deliveries” in which clients are contacted via phone on non-delivery days. By making virtual deliveries on the days when meals are not being delivered to seniors, VNA is providing seniors with a safety check to ensure they are safe and healthy at home. During the calls, volunteers provide vital socialization, as well as asking clients about non-food needs such as whether they need medication assistance. With VNA’s unique capability to provide social services and health care simultaneously, VNA has also been able to address various health concerns of these elderly neighbors. Furthermore, VNA is providing in-home flu shots for Meals on Wheels clients to help them remain happy, healthy, and safe at home.
How many people does your organization help every month/year? Any volunteers? Has that number changed due to the pandemic?
VNA Meals on Wheels serves more than 4,600 hungry, homebound seniors in Dallas. Delivering nearly 300 routes with 200 drivers—half of whom are volunteers, VNA covers the entire 1,000 square miles of Dallas County. As restrictions were imposed by Dallas County leadership following the onset of COVID-19, VNA continued to deliver meals to our hungry, homebound senior neighbors. VNA Meals on Wheels adjusted the delivery schedule and is currently delivering hot meals every Tuesday and Thursday while providing frozen and shelf-stable meals as well as a breakfast to compensate for the remaining days.
How have you used the Moody Foundation’s recent grant to serve your community during the pandemic?
In March, the Foundation granted VNA $150,000 to feed more than 4,600 seniors, purchase PPE for staff and volunteers, and provide shelf-stable meals to clients in the first months of the pandemic. The Foundation also helped us purchase and administer flu vaccines to homebound seniors and in under-served communities.
Where can the community go to find more information on how to volunteer, donate to your organization and/or a schedule of upcoming events?
You can visit our website at www.vnatexas.org.