Knoxville nonprofit expands in-home services for seniors to include grocery shopping amid COVID-19 pandemic

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While the services have expanded because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission is still the same for Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service: provide in-home care for older adults.

SCHAS has been providing homemaker care like cooking, cleaning and transportation for medical appointments. Amid the ongoing pandemic, the 50-year-old nonprofit is adding another service: grocery shopping.

“Our solution is to help them with their shopping needs,” SCHAS Director Tim Howell said. “It can be grocery shopping, pet supplies, over-the-counter drugs, toiletry items, things like that.”

Robert Fuller went shopping Thurday at Kroger, not for himself but for a stranger. Robert, a retired insurance worker, is a volunteer for SCHAS. Normally SCHAS volunteers are caregivers helping with homemaker services.

Shoppers will go online and place their order with SCHAS, and volunteers follow the list.

“And we have shoppers in 16 counties who go out and purchase those supplies for them,” Howell said. “They reimburse us for the cost of those supplies, we deliver it to their homes for free.”

Since SCHAS began “SCHAS Out Shopping,” or SOS, this March, more than 600 people have benefited from the volunteers who give their time to assist others.

“I have a lifelong history of serving people,” Fuller said. “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me, Christ Jesus tells us. As a Christian, as a Seventh Day Adventist, I’m here to serve.”

“We are hoping to get more volunteers and more people who are hoping to get involved with such a great cause,” SOS coordinator Shekina Abston said. “The demand is definitely there, and we want to reach as many people as we can.”

We went along nearly 3 months ago when the SOS program first began. Funding from the federal CARES Act and other money is keeping this new service on strong financial footing.

“Sponsors and the local governments understand how important this program is and SCAHAS has funding up to June of 2021,” Abston said. “We are averaging 10 orders a day for Knox County. We are servicing 16 counties.”

After nearly two hours of shopping, Robert Fuller made his delivery, and the payoff is not a pat on the back but a smile and a grateful “thank you.”

You can visit the SCHAS website or call 865-523-2920 to learn more about volunteering with the nonprofit and enrolling in its SOS program.

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