Jan. 4, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan
As part of an effort to alleviate social isolation among older adults in Queens, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng secured more than half a million dollars for a local nonprofit working to combat the loneliness epidemic.
The $551,210 in federal funding was awarded to DOROT, a New York City-based organization that has spent the past five decades enhancing the lives of older adults in the city through volunteerism. DOROT’s current programs include virtual and in-person workshops, discussion groups and telephone educational opportunities in Spanish, Mandarin and Russian.
The funding, administered by the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will help expand a range of programs for residents in Meng’s District 6, which covers many central Queens neighborhoods such as Elmhurst, Flushing, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.
“When I learned about DOROT, I knew I wanted to find a way to bring its innovative program model to my district,” said Meng, who presented the federal funds to the organization at a ceremony in December. “I am thrilled that our older adults will be able to take advantage of the social community that DOROT builds through its in-person and online programs, and that everyone from teens to people 60-plus will enrich their lives through meaningful volunteer work and vibrant social community.”
The nonprofit DOROT was founded in 1976 by a group of social workers who began serving their older neighbors on the Upper West side with visits and food deliveries. In Hebrew, Dorot translates to “generations,” which reflects the organization’s mission to forge intergenerational bonds.
Since the pandemic, the organization has grown dramatically. It currently serves 5,835 older adults, a 65 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. The organization also has close to 7,000 volunteers who dedicate their time to connecting with the seniors.
After securing the funding, DOROT brought on two additional multilingual community outreach employees. The staff works to create partnerships with local high schools, community centers and other nonprofits to grow their volunteer count and engage more older adults.
“The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a first-ever report describing the epidemic of loneliness in this country,” said Mark Meridy, Executive Director of DOROT. “The problem is particularly difficult for older adults who often have fewer opportunities to connect with community and build social connections.”
He added, “That’s why this initiative is such an opportunity for DOROT, because it will allow us to bring our unique program model to Queens, offering engaging activities that connect older adults to each other and to people of all ages.”