UPPER WEST SIDE, New York City (WABC) -- For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, one of New York's best known social service groups catering to older adults has reopened its doors.
DOROT, a Jewish organization that operates with the goal of alleviating social isolation for New Yorkers, is welcoming back the clients who have been getting programs and services virtually for more than two years.
DOROT offers classes, museum tours, and opportunities for seniors of all backgrounds to socialize, but that all stopped in March of 2020.
"Within a matter of just a couple weeks, the DOROT staff were simply amazing and were able to transition all of our programming to virtual programming," executive director Mark Meridy said.
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The program attracted participants not just from New York City, but in 23 states. For many, it was a lifeline.
"The first 100 days of the pandemic, I did not open my door," 76-year-old Charles Sroufe said.
The Zoom activities kept him engaged, but in person activities is what he was craving.
"It's really important for many of us to come back and see other people, to get involved," Sroufe said.
Because nothing beats the personal experience, according to Ruth Fuchs Hallet.
"You can look at somebody and chuckle about the same thing, or give an elbow, or just know you've connected with somebody on something that's going on," she said.
Event though many people are coming back, DOROT is still going to offer its Zoom programming, as 93% of clients say they want to keep logging on for virtual experiences.
"People are saying, yes, we know that people are starting to come back together, but please, please, please, keep the virtual programming going," Meridy said. "Because we've really built a community over the computer."
Employees and residents are being careful, but they are excited to be back together.
"Life has to go on, especially at an older age," Sroufe said.
For more information, visit DOROT's website.