Every day, we see the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rise in the state of Wisconsin. Thousands are left without work, isolated in their homes, with fear and panic rising up as families try to care for their loved ones. The world finds itself in a situation it’s never been in before, with many worried about what the future holds. In many ways, people feel unseen, lost, and at their most vulnerable.

Annette Jankowski, Director of Adult Day Services, answers the Senior Hotline with answers and support for the elderly. Please call the Senior Hotline at 414-771-6063. (Submitted photo)

As information was being released about the COVID-19 crisis, the Catholic Charities team began to assess the immediate, emerging and hidden needs our communities would be facing. Catholic Charities’ mission remains the same in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our community; however, they are shifting gears to respond to those most impacted by COVID-19. These efforts include creation of a Senior Hotline; maintaining contact with clients to ensure their emotional and physical safety during this time; broadening mental health services by making consultations available by phone, web, or in-person; working with community leaders and parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to identify needs and resources; and increasing communication through social media, email, and website updates.

One of the needs that was seen immediately was the isolation of the high-risk communities: the elderly and the immunocompromised.

“We wanted to create a resource for the elderly, who are unable and scared to go outside of their homes, to know that Catholic Charities is here to help,” said Annette Jankowski, director of adult day services. The Senior Hotline was created to provide support to the elderly community in whatever way they need. For some, it’s been picking up groceries and medications, and delivering them to their front door. For others, the Senior Hotline provides a listening ear for those who are alone and beginning to feel isolated. “The Senior Hotline is not just for food and other essentials; it’s also a connection to the outside world. I probably spend 10-20 minutes on each call allowing them an opportunity to feel they are being listened to and that we really do care,” Jankowski said. The Senior Hotline phone number is 414-771-6063.

As the Senior Hotline began taking calls, the Outreach team quickly realized they needed the opportunity to have immediate access to non-perishable food items. With several food pantries in the area having limited hours of operation and being stretched by the community need, the team found themselves improvising to deliver emergency provisions.

You can help. Catholic Charities is now taking non-perishable food donations, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Adult Day Center, located in Milwaukee at 1919 N. 60th St. You can drive up and drop off your items under the covered entryway. For any further questions on the food drive, contact Jay Sugar, parish relations coordinator, at 414-769-3543 or jsugar@ccmke.org.

The Catholic Charities team remains hopeful and determined to find ways to serve those who are in great need.

“With all our lives being upended with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s great to see the community pull together and help one another; especially those who are alone and without support. Being part of Catholic Charities’ effort to provide care and companionship to the elderly and disabled who have no one else to turn to in this time of crisis allows me to practice my faith in a very tangible way,” said Sue Howland, director of outreach and case management program.

With your support, Catholic Charities will continue to help people suffering the most through the coronavirus pandemic. For more information on Catholic Charities’ services and how you can get involved in helping your neighbors in need, visit www.ccmke.org or call 414-769-3400.