The Town of Montville's Social Services department is working to help an increasingly high number of people get access to basic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We were busy to start with and this, literally, is just like a whirlwind coming in on top of that," said Kathleen Doherty-Peck, director of Senior and Social Services for the town.
The department has had to adjust how they deliver their services to a growing number of clients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is spreading easily in communities across the country. Older people and people who have underlying conditions are more at risk for serious complications from COVID-19.
The governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, is encouraging everyone to stay home, especially people who are more at risk for serious cases of the virus.
People who used to be able to go to Montville Social Services to receive help, including the 50 seniors who used to depend on a free lunch at the senior center every day are now being asked to stay at home. For some residents, a trip to the grocery store is now even too risky. The team at social services is working to make sure people can stay safe at home and still eat.
"We are trying to stretch what we have and make sure no one is going or hungry or without anything that they need," said Doherty-Peck.
The town is now delivering daily meals, hygiene kits and weekly food baskets directly to the doorsteps of any residents who need the help. Doherty-Peck said most of the people signed up right now are seniors who cannot leave their homes, but they are able to deliver to anyone in the town.
Doherty-Peck's team is working around the clock fielding donations and preparing the meals. They said they cannot handle the caseload on their own.
"As much as myself and my staff are working hard to put everything together, we can not do it all," said Doherty-Peck. "It is a community effort at this point."
Volunteers from several Town of Montville local volunteer fire companies stepped up to help fill that void.
"We have the ability to do it," said Steven Frischling, who works as the public information officer for the Chesterfield Fire Company. "As volunteers we serve our community as a whole whether your house is on fire or whether you need something else."
The volunteer firefighters delivered meals, food baskets and conducted wellness checks at about 50 homes in Montville Monday. They plan to assist the department every week. Other community volunteers are stepping in to help on the other days.
Doherty-Peck suspects the need for food will only grow in the weeks to come.
"Hopefully not double or triple because I am afraid that we will not be able to keep up with that," said Doherty-Peck.
She said that volunteers donating both their time and food has been instrumental. Mohegan Sun dropped off thousands of pounds of food this week. They hope that the donations continue so they can continue their work as long as they need to. They are in need of nonperishable food items and gift cards to grocery stores.
"That is the scary part. We are doing our best to provide as much as we can, but as you know, we don’t know how long things are going to go for," said Doherty-Peck.
Anyone who needs to receive a delivery can call Montville Social Services at 860-848-8820.