Staying Together While Standing Far Apart

Much like every other senior community around the United States and the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken The Selfhelp Home, founded in Chicago by and for Holocaust survivors over 70 years ago, by storm.

A lot of changes are taking place daily, all aimed at keeping residents and staff safe. Residents are feeling anxiety due to social distancing. One of the ways we continue to keep the spirit of our home alive has been by actively creating opportunities for residents to stay connected while staying apart.

#Shabbatisnevercancelled – Celebrating Shabbat during COVID-19 

Each week, residents look forward to Shabbat, dressing up, gathering and singing together. However, social distancing policies mean we had to suddenly stop allowing residents to take part in communal dining, thereby canceling Shabbat dinner.

In an effort to keep the importance of Shabbat alive for our residents and ourselves, the staff created a Shabbat cart which we take from door to door, complete with a portable speaker playing Shabbat melodies. Making our way through the building, knocking on doors, the staff delivers care packages to residents filled with mini homemade challot and wine.

Residents come out into the hall to take part, keeping a safe distance from each other while we light the Shabbat candles and sing the prayers together. We are also looking forward to including “Shabbat greetings” from family, friends and board members to the residents by broadcasting through the residents’ televisions in future weeks. Although it looks different, we have found a way to continue the warmth we feel each Friday night of being together as residents now look forward to our new Shabbat tradition.

Best Friends Reconnect for a Dinner Date on Zoom

Missing shared meals is one of the most detrimental and difficult things for many of our residents to accept. Dining time is social time, and now residents are dining alone in their apartments. This can be painful, especially for this group of best friends –   Finnie, Fannie, Sarah and Sue. These ladies enjoy their time together so much, they even made up a little poem about it!

An Ode to Peace

Finnie, Fannie, Sarah and Sue

Quite an entertaining crew

They talk, they chew

No one needs a special view

If they can make it, so can you

Finny, Fannie, Sarah and Sue.

Through the generosity of one of our donors who lent us 20 iPads, we found a way to help them dine together via Zoom! Once we got them connected, they were so excited, they chatted for hours!

Another way we are coping is by remembering to try and smile and have FUN when we can. Here is a fun video we made to keep our spirits up and bring a smile to people’s faces.


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