Tuesday, November 6th was a big day for America as voters took to the polls to make their voices heard in our government. However, for many seniors, limited mobility and limited access to transportation can become barriers to getting to the polls and casting ballots.
Enter Valéria Souza, Ethos’ Resident Services Coordinator (a partnership with the Boston Housing Authority). Valéria began hearing about these challenges from residents a few weeks before election day. Meanwhile, Meg Barhite, Ethos’ Director of Counseling and Support Services, was contacted by Kathy MacDonald, a consultant for Ethos who supervises graduate-level Social Work students at the agency. Contacts of Kathy’s from Heading Home, an organization that provides emergency, transitional and permanent housing, and support services, to low-income homeless and formerly homeless families and individuals in the Greater Boston area, were looking to volunteer their time on election day to drive seniors to the polls. Kathy asked Meg if Ethos might be able to make use of these volunteers – and Meg and Valeria jumped at the chance!
On Tuesday three volunteers from Heading Home, Katie, Karla, and Charles, showed up at Roslyn first thing in the morning. They were bright-eyed and cheerful despite the rainy weather, and were ready to help seniors get to the polls. They greeted residents and knocked on doors, offering rides to the polls. The residents of Roslyn where thrilled at this opportunity, and many made use of the service.
One of the volunteers says of the experience: “We had a great day – [for] one of [the seniors] it was her first time voting and everyone at the polling spot was clapping for her when she turned in her ballot. Everyone we drove was so excited to be voting, it was awesome.”
Another volunteers shared this story, “There was also a client who was scared that she wouldn’t be eligible, and we drove her anyway and she got to vote. That was a really exciting moment, as she would have just stayed home otherwise without someone there to talk to her.”
Thanks to the collaboration of Kathy MacDonald, Heading Home, Valéria Souza, and our wonderful volunteers, residents of Roslyn had the opportunity to cast their ballots and make their voices heard on November 6th!