A Small Middle Georgia City Creates Community Response Team Amid COVID-19
A Middle Georgia city is devising a community response team for the elderly and other vulnerable populations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The city of Adrian—160 miles southwest from Atlanta—has a large vulnerable population, and Mayor Wynola Smith and her office made a plan to get them the help they need.
“We were concerned about the elderly people, people who may be handicapped or people that just really need someone to reach out and check on them from time to time,” Smith said.
Adrian’s community response team is made up of citizen volunteers that call five or six people every day to make sure they’re safe and have everything they need such as medications or groceries. If the person needs help or is in an emergency such as a falling accident, the volunteer will call their emergency contact and assist them.
Adrian residents and city council members also deliver meals and dried goods to the older population or those with limited access to food. Several of them live alone, have restricted mobility and can’t get everything they need.
“[They will say], ‘Oh, this is for me?’ Are you sure? Does anybody else need it?’ [And we say], ‘No this is for you,’” Smith said. “It’s really sweet.”
Almost 25% of Adrian’s population is estimated to be at least 60 years old, compared to 16% in Atlanta. Older people have a higher risk of becoming infected with and dying from the coronavirus, and Adrian’s community honed in on making sure residents’ needs are met.
“People … can’t get out and do anything, and some of them just aren’t able to do that, so we’re trying to get to them in their home,” she said. “So many people right now are cautious because of the virus.”
Smith said the feedback for the community response team has been extremely positive.
“People are so thankful and so grateful, and they know somebody is going to be checking on them,” she said.
Smith is Adrian’s first African American mayor after she served as a city council member for 12 years. She also worked in healthcare for over 30 years, and she always saw a need to help people however she could.
“I would always go beyond because it does my heart good to know that you help someone,” Smith said.
As a member of her local church, Smith has even parceled up and delivered warm meals to those who are hungry and homebound.
“I just can’t stand the thought of a human being going hungry,” she said.
Smith is committed to serving her small community, and she’s grateful that her team of officials are dedicated to the same cause.
“We have less than 700 [people] in our town, so you get close,” she said. “You have more of a personal relationship with the citizens because they know that you care because you are there doing everything you can to help keep them safe [and] to ensure that they have what they need.”