Greenwich Time: Parsonage Cottage keeps residents connected with families during coronavirus crisis

Greenwich Time: Parsonage Cottage keeps residents connected with families during coronavirus crisis

This article originally appeared in the Greenwich Time.

When Greenwich-based Parsonage Cottage Senior Residence closed its doors to visitors March 9 due to the coronavirus crisis, Executive Director Penny Lore knew she had to form a plan to keep the residents connected with their families and friends.

“Isolation can have health-related issues for older adults and social distancing has created a challenge for us,” Lore said. “Like any other adult, our residents find great joy in seeing their family members and having those intergenerational connections. We knew that it would be important to find a way to connect the residents to their loved ones, other than through a glass window.”

Technology has enabled the Parsonage Cottage community, which includes 40 residents, none of whom have been diagnosed with COVID-19, to visit and talk to their loved ones.

Since the senior citizens can’t currently meet face-to-face with their families, because of safety concerns, the idea of video-chatting with their loved ones surfaced.

After an iPad drive was agreed upon by the Parsonage Cottage Fundraising Board, board member Mimi Santry put the plan into action, reaching out to the community for help.

“There was an avalanche of support from several generous Greenwich residents,” Santry said.

Led by Sacred Heart Greenwich seniors Erin O’Connor and Julia Welsh, Parsonage Cottage’s Junior Advisory Board also aided the cause.

“We felt a strong urge to help,” O’Connor said. “The coronavirus has isolated the residents from family and friends. We felt passionate about helping them to connect.”

Said Welsh: “We started within our school and then we reached out to the larger community.”

May Capone, a Parsonage Cottage resident, was able to have a virtual visit with her daughter Andrea Russo and her granddaughter Lauren and newborn baby Caroline.

“We are highly appreciative of the support of the dozens of thoughtful donors and the work of our Junior Advisory Board and especially Erin and Julia in their efforts,” Lore said. “Giving our residents the ability to visit their families virtually is an amazing gift. Without technology, this would not have been possible.”

Jen Donnalley, director of Greenwich Country Day School’s Center for Public Good and a mathematics teacher there, set up the donated iPads for the Parsonage Cottage residents.

“They made them senior friendly and enabled them to connect with some people they haven’t seen for 20 years, or more,” Lore said. “It was really fabulous. The iPads were set up, so all they had to do was press, Zoom, or FaceTime and it has been amazing. One of my met with someone they used to travel with years ago, they were so happy.”

As of last week, more than 30 iPads had been donated to Parsonage Cottage residents, along with $5,000 to purchase additional iPads, chargers, covers, cords and stands. Parsonage Cottage is part of the Housing Authority of the Town of Greenwich.

In addition to Mimi Santry, who is also a Parsonage Cottage board member and owner of Assisted Living Locators, other contributors to the technology drive included: Laurie Pensiero, an EMT and business development manager at Osborn Home Care; JP Muir, founder and CEO of Home Care Connectors; Leslie Florio of Maplewood Senior Living; Ginny Gray of the Greenwich Center for Hope and Renewal; Annesley MacFarlane and the Random Acts of Kindness Group; and town resident Joe Kaliko.

To donate to the Parsonage Cottage iPad Drive, contact Penny Lore at 203-869-6226 or penny@parsonagecottage.org.

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