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iPads keep older people in touch

WARREN — Many area senior citizens have not been able to get out of their homes, attend church or visit friends because of the coronavirus pandemic, so local efforts have been made to get them iPads so they can stay in touch while staying safe.

Cheryl Strother, director of nursing for the Warren City Health Department, said the Grace AME Church in Warren’s Nursing Guild, in conjunction with Warren City Health District, in June began distribution of iPads to seniors who have suffered loneliness, social isolation and physical isolation from family and friends.

Strother said the iPads were funded in part by Buckeye Health Plan, the Raymond J. Wean Foundation, Mercy Health Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, which is operated exclusively for charitable, educational and scientific purposes that effectively assist and promote the well-being of Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The Rev. John McCants, pastor of Grace AME, said the members of the nursing guild wanted to do something for the senior citizens.

“They contacted the city health department to look at the seniors in our community and what their needs are. There are many seniors who are part of our church congregation who make up about 50 percent of the members,” McCants said.

Strother said seniors are a vulnerable part of the community and more at risk to catch the virus.

“They have been alone, had social isolation, loneliness and not able to see family or friends since March,” she said.

The iPads have been equipped with Verizon cellular service for one year.

Strother said the iPads will allow the seniors to reconnect with family and friends, as well as watch their church services online.

“They can listen to music, play games or watch shows and other entertainment at their home,” she said.

McCants said members of the Grace AME Church and other churches can watch their worship services online.

Jesse Vickers, a sales representative with Victra-Verizon Wireless, met with five senior citizens at the health department to show them how to use the iPads.

Vickers met with each senior, and showed them how to set up their iPads so they can stay connected with family and friends.

Strother said they have 27 iPads available.

“Because of the social-distancing guidelines, we are going to be giving out the iPads every so many weeks. We want them to have some socialization since they have been cut off from people. This is a way they can connect with others, such as ordering groceries, or contacting their doctor or pharmacist,” she said.

Vickers said the seniors will receive free Verizon cellular service for a year and after a year can decide if they want to continue.

Strother said a committee made the decision on which seniors were selected for the iPads. Betty Saffold of Warren said she was thrilled to get one.

“It will be nice to stay in contact with people,” she said.

Sandra Pugh of Warren was picking up an iPad for her mother, Lillie White of Warren.

“She will be very happy to get this and to be able to communicate with everyone she has not seen,” Pugh said.

The iPad distribution will continue over the next several weeks in order to uphold social-distancing guidelines.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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