Giving and Getting: Best Practices During Crisis
When disaster strikes, people want to help. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear which groups or nonprofits can respond most effectively, or even if certain organizations asking for donations are legitimate. That’s why it’s so important for people living in Leadville Today to understand how emergency services is set up locally and ultimately managed under the Colorado Emergency Management Office.
On Monday, March 16 the Lake County Board of Commissioners signed an emergency resolution declaring a local disaster emergency for Lake County due to the presence of COVID-19 in the surrounding areas. The declaration empowers the government to perform actions or impose policies that it would normally not be permitted to undertake.
While most locals do not attend the regular Lake County Office of Emergency Management meetings, Leadville Today has for many years. These bi-monthly gatherings are the who’s who of agencies and community leaders who work tirelessly to prepare and train behind the scenes for exactly such a time as this. These are the people who have attended the meetings, including developing strategies about how they will collaborate during a crisis. These are the people who have been in the training sessions. These are the people who understand completely what the best practices are for this community.
While good intentions and pop-up community relief efforts are admirable, these are the credentialed professionals who make up the Lake County’s Emergency Services Council [ESC] providing emergency portals and supply chains for food, as well as financial contributions. They are in place for a reason. Please respect them and what they do by supporting these established groups with the institutional knowledge that will help carry the Leadville community through the COVID-19 crisis.
Today, LT highlights some of them in gratitude for their continued service.
Sign Up for LCOEM Alerts!
The Lake County Office of Emergency Management (LCOEM) provides the opportunity to sign up for emergency alerts to your phone. Anyone can sign up, so if you live here, own a second home in Lake County or love someone who lives here and want to receive emergency notifications, sign up for the Public Alert System.
You can also stay connected on the LCOEM Facebook Page.
Mental Health During COVID-19
By Gwen Ferguson, Solvista Health
Mental health is an essential part of overall health and wellness. At times like these, we face challenges that test us and impact our mental health.
“It’s important to note that everyone responds to challenging situations differently,” said Mandy Kaisner, LPC, Solvista Health Chief Operating Officer. “While many people are experiencing anxiety and fear during the COVID-19 spread, it is also important to note that others may be experiencing loneliness, depression or even anger, in reaction to social distancing.”
In response to the need for social distancing, Solvista Health is delivering services through telephone and telehealth. Telehealth is talking with a mental health professional by a secure teleconference link from a personal computer or other devices like a smartphone.
“By delivering services remotely, we have increased our capacity to serve community members who may be experiencing symptoms of mental health or substance use issues during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Kaisner.
Community members can reach all Solvista Health offices 24/7 at, 719-275-2351, and schedule a time to speak to a counselor about the impacts being experienced. Individuals can also text the statewide crisis line by texting TALK to 38255.
While it’s important to know some of the common emotions people may experience with social distancing, it’s also important to remember that people are resilient. As community members, there can be widespread support through this tough time, it just needs to be done in different ways than usual. Consider checking in with friends and family using video or Facetime options.
Most importantly, remember the purpose of social distancing. Communities are doing this to protect the most vulnerable and to stop the spread of this virus in order to get back to normal. If you or a loved one are struggling to function in your day to day life, reach out for help. Solvista Health is available 24/7 by calling 719-275-2351 or text TALK to 38255.
Hot Meals and A Warm Hug
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, a dozen volunteers meet at the Lake County Senior Citizen Center to prepare hot meals under the direction of the cook at the facility located adjacent to the ice rink. On the day Leadville Today rode along, the menu consisted of fish (it was Lent) along with some rice and corn. This delivery day, since Easter was just a couple of days away, the recipients also got a colored egg and a few candies from the Easter Bunny.
The Leadville Meals on Wheels team is a well-oiled machine, creating two assembly lines to prepare the more than 30 meals that get cooked, packed, and delivered three times a week. And while the hairnets and rubber gloves might appear a bit clumsy, they didn’t seem to get in the way of the lively chatter exchanged among the helpers.
While many of the volunteers in similar programs across the country are high school students, in Leadville the task falls to other senior citizens, those who are able-bodied and able to drive. But with the recent threat of Coronavirus taking direct aim at the older demographic, more volunteers are needed to help the growing demand for more meals as people quarantine as being recommended by the Center for Disease Control.
Meals On Wheels – Watch the Video!
Meals on Wheels delivers food to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. Established in 1974, the program supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition organizations across the country. By providing funding, leadership, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to provide services to their communities. In Leadville, this vital senior program is sponsored – and funded – by Area Agency on Aging.
Research shows that home-delivered meal programs significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, reduce food insecurity and improve quality-of-life among the recipients. The programs also reduce government expenditures by reducing the need for recipients to use hospitals, nursing homes or other expensive community-based services.
Simply put, the program provides hot meals three times a week to homebound seniors and other “shut-ins” in the area, who would otherwise go hungry. Their efforts are appreciated in many ways by the recipients, oftentimes being the catalyst for allowing them to continue to live in their homes independently and with dignity. And for those senior citizens who have family in Leadville, this food program supports their choice to age in place, near their children and grandchildren.
Meals on Wheels has been recruiting local volunteers to assist. You don’t have to commit for all three days and many times having back-up delivery people, allows the regular runners the opportunity to take a day off when needed. If you are interested please contact the Lake County Senior Citizen Center at 719-486-1774.
It’s the Red Cross, Every Time!
It’s usually the first thing people see in times of disasters: the volunteers with the red crosses on their vests. Since nearly the beginning of Leadville (1878), the Red Cross (1880) has been here helping the citizen of America’s highest city. Whether it was assisting the Sisters of Charity during some of the rough and tumble Pioneer mining days, or finding temporary housing for a family displaced by a fire, or providing food to emergency responders as they battled the wildfire blazes in recent years, the Red Cross can be counted on in times of distress.
So it’s no wonder, when it comes to directing people where to financially contribute in times of emergency, the answer has always been the Red Cross. Hands down, every time the subject came up during emergency discussions in Lake County, if there was a local or regional crisis, donors should be directed to the redcross.org where they could make a cash donation and specify where their money would go. Many in Leadville Today still think that’s important, to live up to that promise. The Red Cross has been here for Lake County, so supporting their efforts financially seems like the honorable thing to do. Please consider a contribution to the Red Cross.
In conclusion of this latest COVID-19 Update from Leadville Today, residents are reminded to keep an eye to the skies as a significant winter weather system is forecast for today lasting possibly throughout the weekend. And with some new measures in place by the Colorado State Patrol, it’s probably just a good time to stay put. Be well, stay safe!