SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — As we work through this difficult time, many kind San Diegans are finding ways to help each other out, and they’re all linked to one local woman with a mission to keep the elderly from going forgotten.
Two years ago, Shifra Baltinester made it her job to connect with senior citizens in her community after being inspired by her 94 year old mother, a Holocaust survivor.
“I realized that they are so lonely and it was like, I have to do something about it,” she said.
She created "Social Bridge," a campaign dedicated to bridging the gap between generations, but those interactions didn't always go as planned.
"There is a pride issue - I don't need anything. They don't want to be needy. They don't want to be a burden,” she said.
That changed when COVID-19 began to spread. The state of California called on residents 65 and older to stay at home and isolate. Even senior centers are closed, and many seniors are now asking for a helping hand.
“I had an older man [who] lives downtown say, 'I need someone to help me,'” she said.
The connections begin on social media, Facebook or Nextdoor. Shifra is able to introduce anyone not at high risk for coronavirus, to those who are.
"We want to help you. Let us. Allow us,” she said.
Keeping at least a six foot distance, volunteers set out to knock on doors. Mostly, they've been asked to deliver food to the elderly.
The need is so great, it's prompted the San Diego based breakfast chain "Broken Yolk" to donate a generous supply, anything from bread to bananas not being consumed since restaurants were told to close.
“Broken Yolk still has a lot of locations that have pick up and delivery options, but with that we still has a lot of extra food,” said Broken Yolk Marketing Director Lisa Erickson.
“In time like that I believe all of us bring our hearts to a higher level,” said Shifra.
Shifra hopes the relationships will last long after the virus is gone, but to do that, she needs a support system.
Anyone interested in helping the cause can visit the Checking on Neighborhood Elders & Immunocompromised San Diego and www.SocialBridgeUS.org, a 5013c organization with a mission of Providing solutions for Elders’ Loneliness, while building relationships between Generations.