The Naples Senior Center had been hoping to reopen at maximum capacity this fall. However, with an increase in COVID-19-related cases, that goal seemed less realistic by the day.
Staff and seniors alike will benefit from the planned reopening. It was clear that seniors need to feel connected after the pandemic. Jacclynn Faff, President and CEO of Naples Senior Center believes isolation and loneliness can be as fatal as COVID-19.
Those difficult circumstances made Monday’s reopening that much more exciting.
Signs and balloons greeted seniors as they walked through the center’s doors for the first time since March of 2020.
The pandemic continues, with temperature checks, mask requirements, and glass barriers serving as subtle reminders.
“I’ve run into people in Publix who said, ‘when are you opening?’ ‘When are you opening?’ And you know it’s with tempered enthusiasm that we open our doors today,”Faffer stated.
She explained that the center can only accommodate 30% of the residents and that 95% of those who visit are vaccinated. The center requires all staff and volunteers to be vaccinated.
Jim Sernovitz is among those volunteers. He is the drummer circle’s leader. “We couldn’t wait to get vaccinated,” said Sernovitz. “I wanted to get this going again so bad I said ‘can we do it outside in the parking lot?’ they said ‘no.’”
Diane Goldstein worries that the excitement over this reopening might be short-lived, as cases are rising.
“I’m very concerned,” said Goldstein. “And I hope it does not delay or postpone the opening of the senior center and the continuation of being able to be together. We’re just gonna have to be very careful.”
Faffer responded that she is not worried about an epidemic at the center when Faffer was asked. “Constantly. I’d be foolish if I didn’t say that … And should there, God forbid, be an outbreak; we would close our doors. We will error on the side of caution always.”
The center is closed for the moment.
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