NY Connects and coronavirus emergency household delivery supplies

Independent Perspective 1694 with guest Georgia Brodie about NY Connects and the coronavirus emergency household delivery supplies.

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Georgia Brodie, Assistant Director of Independent Living of Niagara County (ILNC) and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Georgia.

Guest:  Hello, thank you for having me here.

Host:  It's our pleasure and hopefully, our listeners won't be too put off by my little cold but you're here because you have the big picture on something that's important that the agency has been doing since the start of the coronavirus pandemic; assistance to people by NY Connects. First for the benefit of our listeners, could you tell us just what NY Connects is and whom it serves?

Guest:  Sure. So, NY Connects is a program that provides information, referrals and assistance services to adults who are 60 and older, living in the Niagara County area. Assistance can also be provided to the family and friends for those older adults, say if they're caring for an older adult. So that's pretty much what it is.

Host:  You sometimes work in concert with other organizations like the Niagara County, I think was Office for the Aging is it?

Guest:  Yes. Sometimes we get referrals, you know, from other agencies. And sometimes we need to make referrals out to those agencies as well. You know, people they might need assistance, you know, applying for SNAP benefits or HEAP and we usually the program usually helps out with that.

Host:  Wonderful. Now, a lot of the needs that existed at the height of the pandemic have eased off a little bit but if you can take us back a couple of years what sort of urgent needs were there in the community when we were sheltering at home?

Guest:  There was a need for emergency supplies as you can recall, in the beginning, you know, you couldn't go to a store sometimes and find necessities, items that you needed. So, the program we were giving away bags of household items, toiletries, to people that were in need of them. So, you're basically your household income, you had to fall along those guidelines in reference to the federal poverty guidelines. So those bags that we were giving away included things such as paper towels, tissue, hand sanitizer, bar soap, dishwashing liquid just to name a few things.

Host:  Oh, I can remember walking through stores and seeing full aisles devoid of toilet paper and paper towels and such things. So, I imagine you're doing very important things while you're doing it primarily for those who are consumers of the agency services or was it available to anybody in Niagara County?

Guest:  I would say they were available to consumers of the agency. So if you receive a letter, then more than likely, you know you were on our list of consumers within the agency, but also outreach was done by the NY Connect staff where you know, they maybe just went to places, to the library, and so forth, and just talking, gave information about our program, but those people who they came in contact with, if they qualify, they were also able to receive bags.

Host:  And although things have toned down, they're still available to people who are like self-quarantining or whatnot or otherwise homebound, would you say?

Guest:  Yes. Yes, they are still available to those who might be homebound. We have transportation services where you can arrange to get your bags dropped off or you can arrange for someone to pick them up here from the office for you if you are home bound.

Host:  Georgia, we're totally out of time. I'm sure people will have questions. How can they reach you?

Guest:  Yes, you can reach me here at the office, 746 Portage Road. You can contact me. My number is 284-4131 and my extension is 214.

Host:  Alright, thanks so much for being with us.

Guest:  Thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Host:  You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Georgia Brodie, Assistant Director of ILNC. And I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.