Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

King–sized treats

Nursing homes have truly been the ground zero of COVID–19.

In late May, the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity found that 42 percent of all COVID–19 deaths in the U.S. came from nursing homes and assisted­–living facilities. Every day, staffers go to work with the added stress of wondering if they can avoid contracting the virus and taking it home to their families.

Lieutenant Megan Moretz, the corps officer in Marietta, Ohio, said the Heartland of Marietta nursing home was hit with several COVID–19 cases. The home is special to Moretz and the corps because they held a church service there once a week before the coronavirus hit.

“We’ve gotten to know a few staff members and several of the residents,” Moretz said. “They’ve certainly been in our hearts and prayers as they’ve dealt with this.

“I know it must have been a stressful time for the staff and everyone living there.”

In late May, the corps received a donation of candy bars and decided to bless the nursing home staff, which toiled each day with little recognition. Moretz delivered 50 candy bars to a staffer outside the nursing home.

“We just tied the candy bars together with a ‘thank you’ note and delivered them to the Heartland of Marietta,” Moretz said. “Even just a small gesture like that was appreciated by the staff.

“As stressful as I think the last three months have been, I couldn’t imagine working at a nursing home with coronavirus cases. This was our way to just thank the staff for the way they’re caring for the most vulnerable in our community.”

Moretz said that during the first few weeks of COVID, staffers were busy at the corps feeding the needy. Now, things are starting to return to normal. “The food pantry was definitely the biggest need at the beginning,” she said. “We tried to keep up with the need.”

The virus also changed Sunday worship, social services, and youth programming at the corps, Moretz said.

“It sometimes feels like everything has changed,” she said. “It’s affected everything we do.”

One change in youth programming was to offer a unique initiative called “Summer Camp in a Box” since so many summer camps are closed. In mid-June, about 20 families picked up the boxes, which included crafts, snacks, games, and other activities to enjoy at home.

“It’s definitely a need in our community, what I would call ‘creative programming.’ That was another thing that was really appreciated. We were surprised at how many families quickly signed up for that program,” Moretz said.

“As summer came in, we started to think, ‘Well, these kids have been out of school for months already and now summer camps are closed and so how can we fill that gap?’ We exist to meet human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination, so what are the needs that have arisen because of the coronavirus and how can we meet those needs? That’s always in the forefront of my mind.”

by Robert Mitchell