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Coronavirus Takes Toll On Homebound Seniors And Army Of Volunteers

Hundreds of homebound older adults in Arizona rely on volunteers to help them with things like grocery shopping or going to a doctor’s appointment. But with the coronavirus pandemic, some volunteers are struggling to support these individuals. 

Andrea Garcia is a volunteer with  Duet, a Valley nonprofit that serves older adults and caregivers. Because of the coronavirus, instead of taking her client to the supermarket, Garcia is going to the store for her, since older adults are at higher risk of dying from the disease. Still, that worries her.

"Part of going grocery shopping with them is that they get to interact with, you know, the world, they get to see more than just the four walls in their home that they're confined to," she said. "And so isolation in homebound adults is a huge issue, which of course, leads to depression."

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, organizations like Duet were struggling to find enough volunteers to meet the needs of homebound seniors. Now that need is even greater since many volunteers are seniors themselves.  One such organization is Benevilla in the West Valley.

Joanne Thomson is president and CEO of Benevilla. She says its current volunteer base is mostly made up of senior citizens and they’re now staying home. 

"But as this is continuing on, if we don't have people that are continually checking on them and maybe going grocery shopping for them, or taking them to their vital appointments, this pandemic is really going to be felt in our communities here," she said.

Volunteers are required to have a Level 1 fingerprint clearance card.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.