The following is a press release issued by North Coast Opportunities
As the county fell dormant with the shelter-in-place orders from COVID-19, volunteers for the Quarantine Relief Program began to act. A coordinated effort between the County of Mendocino and North Coast Opportunities, the quarantine program seeks to provide comfort to those with low-incomes in mandated quarantines either from exposure to the virus, or a positive COVID test result. Using contact tracers to identify those in need of quarantine services, the county disaster operations center connects the client with NCO. The service has recruited a wealth of volunteers who continue to deliver food provided by the Ukiah Food Bank, as well as supplies and necessities welcomed to those facing quarantine.
“We were running all over the county!” comments Lenore Flanders, the program assistant who took on the project in November of 2020–amid the massive holiday surge. The program’s volunteers are constantly on call, ready to deliver foods, necessities, prescriptions, and requests. Those in quarantine would contact the county health department their requests and NCO volunteers would promptly deliver. Flanders notes how easy it has been to find volunteers for the program.
“This needed service was something that anyone with a vehicle and time could do; no special equipment or training needed,” says program volunteer Charlie Kelly. “I was heartened to find that every requested delivery (large or small) was providing genuine necessities, whether that be cleaning or sanitizing supplies, groceries that were always nutritious, diapers, and even water in a few cases.”
Along with the gradual uptick of cases in the latter half of 2020 and the surge in the new year, the project coordinators and volunteers found the new landscape ever-more complex to navigate–though, not impossible.
“What impressed me time and time again was the amazing and effective teamwork of the staff at NCO. They jumped into action in such well coordinated efforts to get these families what they most needed,” Flanders recalls.
About 4,500 individuals in Mendocino county have been within isolation (according to the county’s most recent case data). Each family within quarantine undoubtedly faced their own set of challenges.
“I remember I spoke to a young man over the phone who was nervous about the well-being of his family after they contracted the virus,” says Flanders. “It was simple to see the very personal effects that quarantine has on the individual through the conversation; and, just how important it is to provide as much comfort as possible for those enduring quarantine.”
The vulnerable state that those in quarantine endure is a great concern of the community. Flanders believes this is a primary reason for such explosive support from volunteers. “The thoughts that dominate my actions are that I am happy to be here for people in need,” volunteer Becky Parsons says. “I am living very far away from my own family and my own friends at the moment and it’s good to know that there is somebody that will have your back in the event that you cannot go shopping for your own family or have medical prescriptions delivered.”
Parsons has elderly family members who have trouble caring for themselves who she often thinks about when volunteering.
“I strongly believe that in giving to your community and in helping others there will be somebody out there who would do the same for the ones I love in the event that I couldn’t be there,” Parsons remarks.
While the program has had some decrease in calls as the case count steadily took a fall thanks to the COVID-19 vaccines in the Spring and early Summer, volunteers are still available. As of now, with the new Delta variant creating a substantial climb in case counts among the unvaccinated, another period of bustling volunteer engagement is underway.
“The program reminds me of the goodness of human beings,” says Flanders. “We are there for each other. It is beautiful.”
For those in need of quarantine support, call the Mendocino County Public Health department at (707) 472-2759 and the request will be directed to the Quarantine Families Food Program. More information on NCO’s assistance can be found at ncoinc.org.