A local organization is hoping to help some of Foggy Bottom’s oldest residents.
Volunteers at the Foggy Bottom West End Village on K Street will soon have more resources to draw out the most isolated members of the neighborhood. The organization received a $10,000 grant last week to hire new staff members who can help members who are specifically dependent on the place.
Volunteers from the Foggy Bottom West End Village help elderly residents in the area live more independently outside of their own homes. The volunteers take older residents, who can sign up to be members of the program, out for trips like grocery shopping or doctor’s visits, and also host social events like exercise classes or dinners.
The Cloudbreak Foundation, which gives money to D.C. charities, awarded the grant to the village Jan. 27. The president of the foundation, Josh Newborn, said the village deserved the award because isolation in old age can lead to health problems and earlier death.
“Being socially isolated, lonely and living alone all are linked to a quicker death,” Newborn said. “It is very important that these elderly communities address these issues.”
Mary Bernstein, the vice president of the village, said the nonprofit will use the grant to pay for employees to plan more social events for residents. She added that they will also use the money to identify more community members who might not know about the group’s services.
Bernstein said there are more than 140 neighborhood residents that participate in the group’s programs, 70 percent of which live alone and 16 percent of which have problems moving around. She said social isolation is a dangerous problem for the elderly.
“This problem is serious,” she said. “The grant given to us by the foundation will allow us to expand our reach and help even more members of the Foggy Bottom community.”
Social events coming up on the village’s calendar include bonding and coffee every Tuesday morning this month, French lessons, meditation sessions and a walking group. The calendar also shows special social events like a visit to the Frederick Douglass Historic Site Feb. 17 and a Leap Day happy hour.
Liesbeth Boxman, a member of the Foggy Bottom West End Village who lives on 25th and K streets, said the grant is “a wonderful thing.” She said that she joined the village more than two years ago around the time she got a knee replacement surgery. She said she realized how extensive the services are when she was driven to and picked up from the hospital.
“It’s a wonderful thing that they’re extending their reach and helping other people in that kind of situation,” Boxman said.
She added that she appreciates how the organization is inclusive to low-income residents, who make up about 15 percent of the members of the village.
“It is absolutely magnificent that these people are not excluded,” she said. “That they really include everybody in the neighborhood.”