EAST BRUNSWICK–With the East Brunswick Senior Center still closed due to the coronavirus crisis, Director Danielle Micale is encouraging seniors to take advantage of phone and virtual services.
“The East Brunswick Senior Center and all East Brunswick Township offices remain closed at this time. We do not have a definitive date on if/when we will be able to reopen the center itself; however, East Brunswick Department on Aging staff remain available by phone and/or virtually during regular business hours of Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.,” Micale said.
Since the middle of March, immediately following the center’s closing, Micale said the township worked collaboratively on setting up virtual activities and programs.
“We are currently providing an array of virtual activities in partnership with the East Brunswick Township Department of Recreation that can be accessed at any time from the township website under ‘Virtual Recreation Center,’ ” Micale said. “This includes fitness classes, arts/crafts, cooking programs, meditation, stress management, line dancing and more.”
Micale said the department also provides live educational programs and support groups via Zoom for its members monthly.
“For those participants that are unable to access the programming online, we have partnered with EBTV to broadcast a sample of our group activities on the local television station daily,” Micale said. “We continue to manage and implement our East Brunswick Home Delivered Meals program and staff are providing the deliveries until further notice, rather than using volunteers for liability purposes, as the center remains closed.”
Micale said the department is fortunate to have such a professional team in East Brunswick where it continues to serve the community during these unprecedented times.
“Furthermore, we continue to make weekly welfare check phone calls and provide case management, as well as counseling over the phone and virtually. We also send our participants a weekly e-newsletter that includes information on supportive services and resources. Our East Brunswick Township Department on Aging Facebook page and social media accounts are updated multiple times per week to assist in disseminating further sources of information and support.”
Micale said since the Blue Delivery grocery program that the East Brunswick Police Department spearheaded ended in June, the department has made safety modifications including installation of plexiglass, as well as commercial sanitizing procedures on the department’s buses to allow employees to provide limited grocery shopping trips on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“This service is only for our registered participants that do not drive. Reservations must be made by calling our main number between 8-9 a.m. the morning of the trip,” Micale said. “Participants are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times and sit in assigned seats that are physically distanced and are limited to one trip per week at this time, unless space permits.”
If the department is able to open the center in any capacity, Micale said it will be an abbreviated schedule with pre-registration required, as well as numerous safety protocols in place.
“It is not likely that we will be able to resume previous center operations as we were prior to the pandemic, given the absence of a vaccine or viable treatment,” Micale said. “As we know, older adults are at greater risk and it is not safe to have our participants 60-plus congregate in large groups at this time considering that our daily attendance was at 150-plus per day.”
Micale said the department is continuing to work on policies and guidelines should it be able to open to some sort of limited in-person programming in the future, using ongoing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the State of New Jersey.
“This pandemic has proven extremely challenging for all of us, especially those 60 and over. Having to maintain physical distance has been emotional for all of us, but we have worked extremely hard to not be ‘socially’ distant by continuing to provide ongoing contact and support both virtually and over the phone,” Micale said.
“We are consistently thinking of ways outside the box to enhance socialization and support, and look forward to creating more innovative programming to best meet the needs of our 60 and over participants,” she said.
For more information; or for assistance, support, counseling or just a friendly voice, call 732-390-6896 during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Contact Vashti Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.