Polk organization for elderly balances serving high-risk population and protecting them

Coronavirus

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An organization that helps people at the highest risk if infected by COVID-19 is working to limit exposure and continue vital services to the community.

Volunteers In Service to the Elderly, or VISTE, serves 4,200 seniors in western Polk County. The seniors, aged 70 – 106, receive home-delivered meals, groceries and transportation to appointments, among other services.

“We are solely focused on the most at-risk population right now and we are very much in need of continued support to make sure that we can continue to serve their needs,” said Steve Bissonnette, VISTE President.

Bissonnette has made small changes aimed at keeping his elderly clients and volunteers healthy.

He has reverted to using Styrofoam containers instead of reusable ones for the hot meals, temporarily stopped allowing clients to pick items off of shelves and includes pamphlets in each delivery container with information on coronavirus.

Bissonnette is re-prioritizing when his drivers will transport patients. Recurring appointments, including dialysis and chemotherapy, will take priority.

With schools closed, Bissonnette has heard from many groups that want to come in and help.

“It’s not a good time for us to bring a lot of groups in here because many of our volunteers are at risk so we want to protect that environment as much as possible,” he said.

A handful of volunteers, all seniors, were sorting groceries Monday morning.

“If we don’t do this, some people are gonna go without food,” said Danny Tindall, Ed.D, a volunteer. “We want to make sure, especially those that are in homes that can’t get out, that we’re able to minister to them and bring them what they need.”

While sticking to their mission to help their fellow seniors, they are taking precautions.

“This is a small group here, we’re not a lot of people. So we’re able to function very very well and keep certain distances,” said Tindall.

Bissonnette expects volunteers to, understandably, opt to stay home. He will need drivers.

“We need volunteers to help transport primarily food, either the hot meals that we do twice a week or groceries that we do once a month,” said Bissonnette.

Bissonnette also suggests serving the elderly in your own community by just checking in on your neighbors, see if they need anything or just want to talk.

If you would like to learn more about how to volunteer or donate to VISTE, visit https://viste.org/.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos

Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay restaurants adjust to “survive” during coronavirus pandemic"

Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online

Thumbnail for the video titled "Coronavirus; More than 5,000 classes at USF transition to online"

Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus

Thumbnail for the video titled "Let's boogie! Local dance studio offers FREE virtual lessons during coronavirus"

Tuesday Midday Weather Update

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tuesday Midday Weather Update"

Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional"

Thumbnail for the video titled "Attorneys call arrest of Tampa megachurch pastor after packed Sunday services "unconstitutional""

St. Petersburg parks open, for now

Thumbnail for the video titled "St. Petersburg parks open, for now"

Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state

Thumbnail for the video titled "Tampa Bay area workers continue to be unable to file for unemployment benefits through state"

Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities

Thumbnail for the video titled "Sarasota County reports cases of COVID-19 at senior care facilities"

Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?

Thumbnail for the video titled "Why are Floridians waiting up to 11 days for COVID-19 test results?"

a nonprofit organization is delivering free pet food to pet owners across Hillsborough County

Thumbnail for the video titled "a nonprofit organization is delivering free pet food to pet owners across Hillsborough County"
More Local News

Coronavirus Need-to-Know Info

More Coronavirus

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss