Senior Outreach Staff

Staff at McFarland Senior Outreach prepare meal deliveries for the village’s senior citizen community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

McFarland Senior Outreach is getting creative this year to keep senior citizens engaged amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization has implemented two new programs for seniors so far this year, one a craft project and the other a movie special.

“At McFarland Senior Outreach, we have been trying to think outside the box to better support the seniors in our community who are struggling during these difficult times,” said Outreach Case Manager Katie Gletty-Syoen. “Social isolation is an ongoing problem with many older adults, which has only been heightened by the COVID-19 crisis.”

Gletty-Syoen said Threads of Resilience, a new knitting program enacted at McFarland Senior Outreach, was created with four goals in mind: engaging in creative activities, connecting with others, cultivating talents safely, and working toward a future goal.

The program encourages senior citizens to show off their craft skills by knitting or crocheting eight-inch blanket squares. Once each square is collected, volunteers from the McFarland Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) will knit the squares together into one big blanket.

“The finished products will be a collection of vibrant tapestries representing the resiliency, love, and hope in this community through the adversity of COVID-19,” Gletty-Syoen said. “We look forward to a time when we can all gather to view the completed blankets during a gallery-opening reception.”

“The donors will be recognized for their contributions, as we also wish to elevate the appreciation of the skill, talent, and art inherent in the fiber arts created by individuals who knit and crochet,” she went on to say. “The fact that the art will be in the form of blankets is a lovely image to represent the warmth, safety and comfort that we are all craving right now.”

McFarland Senior Outreach has partnered with E.D. Locke Public Library to procure the hefty supply of yarn that will need to be distributed to participants in the program who are not already equipped with the needed materials.

Pre-packaged Threads of Resilience craft kits can be reserved for curbside pick-up from the library by calling (608)-838-9030.

Thanks to McFarland Senior Outreach, seniors will also be able to watch some classic movies while they work on their blanket squares.

Every other Friday, McFarland Senior Outreach will be broadcasting films available for viewing on TDS cable channel 1009, Spectrum cable channel 982, and McFarland cable’s website. The films will begin at 2 p.m.

“Although our seniors cannot sit in a movie theater together, at least this will give them the opportunity to enjoy some entertainment in the comfort and safety of their homes,” Gletty-Syoen said. “We will present a short intro prior to the movie with a member of the McFarland Senior Outreach staff offering updates to programs and resources for senior citizens in the community.”

Viewers can complete a movie quiz for each film, which is available to be downloaded as a fillable PDF on McFarland Senior Outreach’s website, or by calling (608)-838-7117.

Director of McFarland Senior Outreach Lori Andersen said the new programming for seniors has come at a time when they likely need it most.

“For seniors, both in our meal program and in the community, social isolation has been a concern as the pandemic and restrictions continue,” Andersen said. “We have tried to make the [events] a little more special by adapting to the [COVID-19] restrictions.”

Andersen also said that, though the senior citizen community has been hit hard with pandemic related issues over the past year, McFarland Senior Outreach is taking every step it can to ensure the village’s senior community is well taken care of.

“We have kept in touch with the seniors to address their concerns, just as we have in the past, although most of the contact is over the phone,” said Andersen. “We focus in on mental health concerns more closely, like ‘how are you coping?’ and ‘who are your support contacts?’, all questions we have asked before but now with more emphasis.”

While staff at McFarland Senior Outreach aren’t sure when it will be safe to reconvene its pre-COVID activities and procedures, Andersen encourages senior citizens and all other community members to contact senior outreach at (608)-838-7117 for help with questions and concerns.

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