Srq Daily Jul 5, 2023 | Community Foundations

Srq Daily Jul 5, 2023

Foundation: Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation

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When Hurricane Irma slammed into Florida in September, one group in the state that was especially hard-hit was the elderly, and they needed a little extra help.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports on the Senior Friendship Centers' "friendship at home" program, which pairs volunteers with seniors in need to make phone calls, visit, or provide other help.

"Once somebody stops driving, their world starts to get very, very small and so Friendship at Home was really about taking the socialization piece of what we do on our campuses and bringing it into the home," says Erin McLeod, CEO of Senior Friendship Centers.

The program has been around for more than 20 years, and it's grown into a full-fledged community-wide effort since the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, for instance, the organization's meal program went from serving 10,000 meals a month to under 60,000.

Now, with additional federal funding, the program is serving 33,000 meals a monththree times what it was before.

In addition to phone calls, the program also assists with rent, utility bills, and emergency food bags.

"By just stepping forward and maybe making a call or two a week, just being a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, you can

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