Miami-Dade County Elder Affairs Advisory Board Mask Drive Receives Hundreds of Masks made by VITAS Healthcare Volunteers

(Left) VITAS Healthcare Director of Market Development Catalina Febles, VITAS Associate General Manager Annette Requena, VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Maria Hidalgo, Elder Affairs Advisory Board Member and Senior Advocate for the Mayor’s Initiative on Aging Teri Busse-Arvesu, and VITAS Associate VP of Operations for S. Florida Natalia Hernandez

MIAMI – In Florida, July has been the deadliest month since the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The most vulnerable to death and hospitalization are people older than 65 or those who have underlying health concerns such as weakened immune systems, diabetes, or obesity. These statistics have been the driving force behind the Elder Affairs Advisory Board and the Miami-Dade Mayor’s Initiative on Aging to create a mask drive.

On July 27, they distributed 300 additional reusable cloth masks to South Florida Seniors in Action, thus approaching the 10,000 mark of mask distributions. South Florida-based VITAS Healthcare, a leading provider of end-of-life care, donated colorful masks. Each mask was carefully sewed by VITAS volunteers from around the country to help #OurCounty seniors.

“We are proud to help meet the needs of our senior citizens and to support the Elder Affairs Advisory Board for the much-needed services they provide our community,” said Betty Bel, vice president of operations at VITAS Healthcare. “Hospice volunteers are valuable members of our care teams, and throughout the pandemic they have continued their dedication and flexibility. Typically, our sewing volunteers are busy crafting Memory Bears for our patients’ families using special fabric belonging to their loved ones to serve as a lasting, cuddly reminder after they pass. During the pandemic, our volunteers crafted thousands of cloth face masks that have been used nationwide.”

The Elder Affairs Advisory Board, under the Office of Community Advocacy, continues their mask drive for older adults. Private donors, public organizations, and elected officials have donated thousands of masks and the Board is actively seeking more face masks donations and other supplies to distribute to vulnerable seniors. For more information, please email Katherine Bolt or call 305-375-3025.

The Elder Affairs Board was established by an ordinance and approved unanimously by the Board of County Commissioners. The Board’s mission is to expand the support for seniors in Miami-Dade County, while allowing them to play a more active role in the local government by crafting strategies to better meet their needs.

The Board serves in an advisory capacity to the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, to assist the elderly community, which makes up 16 percent of the County’s population.

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