Hoosiers Help at home

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

For the most part, the local faith-based volunteer organization Hoosiers Help has helped elsewhere — after hurricanes in Texas, North Carolina and Florida, flooding in Nebraska — but now, the community is in crisis and, given that the crisis is worldwide, it’s up to the community to help itself.

Hoosiers Help volunteers are taking meals to elderly shut-ins, among the most endangered by the SARS2 virus and the COVID-19 disease caused by it. They have been meeting at Southern Hills Church to cook hot meals and then deliver those meals to people who have arranged for meals. Aside from this current week, when they will be helping at the YMCA, they have been focusing solely on elderly shut-ins.

“It’s a different sort of mission than we’re used to,” said Rhonda Johnson. “We’re used to going out to natural disasters, not prepping meals and delivering them, and trying to sort out who needs and who wants.”

“It’s more challenging to find the food items because you have to go to several different places to get everything you need to make the meals,” said Kristine Shetler, one of the founders of Hoosiers Help.

“It’s also harder to get volunteers, because not only are we working within age guidelines, but we have to also think about if they have small children at home, if they have elderly people at home, do they have anyone sickly at home,” said Johnson. “It really limits your volunteers.”

Shetler said the group is going to try to keep the same volunteers cooking and delivering to limit the spread.

In the past, Hoosiers Help has released a list of items they plan to be taking to whatever disaster area they are ministering to. This time, when that area is home, they are seeking funds, rather than food. This will allow them to minimize the number of variables they’re working with as far as where the food has come from and who has been in contact with it after it leaves the store.

They also need people willing to deliver meals, but there are certain guidelines those drivers must meet. They need to be between 18 and 65. They can’t have young children or elderly people living with them, nor can they be caretakers for any elderly people. They will have their temperature checked each morning, and they must wear a new pair of plastic gloves between each delivery.

“We’ve always gone out of state, but it’s usually a different type of disaster,” said Shetler. “We’ve never had to do anything here before. The neat thing is I’ve always wanted to set up at Riley’s Place to preach to the block. My goal is to do that once or twice a month. It’s neat we got that opportunity; I just wish it was for a different reason!”

Shetler said the elderly can’t always get out and, during a situation like this, should not be going out. The virus is especially dangerous to elderly respiratory systems.

“If there’s certain needs for certain people that are being stopped — a lot of places are closing — and so we wanted to feed those who can’t get out,” said Shetler. “They need to be elderly who are shut in.”

Stevie Perry began volunteering with Hoosiers Help recently and was cooking and delivering meals this past Thursday.

“I like that it’s behind the scenes and that you’re able to do something that makes a difference to people and not a lot of people will know about it besides the people who are receiving the help,” she said. “It feels like you’re doing something that’s not only good, but that matters.”

“I think it’s neat to see people in your community that need help and you just hand someone a meal,” said Johnson. “They don’t know your name, they don’t know where you’re from. They don’t know, they just know God fulfilled that need through someone else.”

“They’re very appreciative,” said Shetler, “and they’re scared. A lot of them can’t even get out on a daily basis, and then when they see something like this, and it’s nation-wide —”

“They don’t know who’s going to take care of them,” said Johnson.

“It’s a neat thing we’re doing, and a loving thing,” said Shetler.

“It’s neat to see the community come together and pool resources to help our own,” said Johnson.

Hoosiers Help began following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, when Shetler was watching news coverage and was led to go help those trying to recover. They have since been at the aftermath of Hurricanes Florence and Michael and went to help those impacted by the flooding last year in Nebraska.

“I think it started when we realized we had plenty, and others were suffering and didn’t, and we could fill that need,” said Johnson.

Donations can be made at the Hoosiers Help account at Mid-Southern Savings Bank, or can be mailed to Southern Hills Christian Church (1645 S. State Road 135, Salem, Indiana, 47167) or Mt. Tabor Christian Church (7380 W. Mt. Tabor Rd., Salem, Indiana, 47167), and mark “Hoosiers Help” in the memo line.

If you are, or know someone who is, an elderly person who can’t leave their home to get what they need and need to be placed on the delivery list, contact Hoosiers Help on Facebook.


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