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Coordinating a multitude of helping hands: Sara Mundy marshals volunteers during pandemic

Sara Mundy, who was already a busy staffer at the Town’s Senior Center, has jumped into action to help coordinate the many volunteers looking for ways to help their neighbors.

“So far I have a list of 62 volunteers,” Ms. Mundy said, a list that is growing every day. “The response has been amazing.”

Much of the effort is directed at homebound seniors, but people are stepping up to fill other needs as well. She asked people who would like to volunteer to do food shopping, post office and pharmacy pickups and deliveries, to sign up by emailing [email protected]

The Senior Center received a generous donation of items to put together care packages for home bound seniors, with one woman ordering enough for 25 care packages. “We are very grateful,” Ms. Mundy said. “They will be getting put together for delivery next week. I may ask volunteers to help with that as well.”

Councilman Jim Colligan is heading an “Adopt a Senior” initiative, she said, encouraging people to contact neighbors by phone, especially elderly neighbors. Checking in for 10-15 minutes a day can make a huge difference, Ms. Mundy said. If they find the senior needs food, prescriptions, their mail, etc. they can call the Senior Center at 631-749-1059, and then contact that person and have a volunteer help them.

“I would say that would be the greatest help,” Ms. Mundy said. She also pointed out there may be people on the Island who need assistance that don’t have the internet and are staying in. “Please encourage them to tune in to Channel 22,” she said.

Senior Services Director Laurie Fanelli is currently working on contacting caregivers who may need extra support at this time. This can be difficult for them, as well as those they care for, Ms. Mundy explained, so she wants to make sure they have support if they need it.

Lucille Buergers, the town’s social worker, has putt together ZOOM meetings starting April 1. There’s more info about that on the Town of Shelter Island, NY Facebook page.

This is the email questionnaire Ms. Mundy sends, to anyone asking for help:


You are over the age of 60 and answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions:

Are you currently sick or not feeling well?

Do you have a compromised immune system?

Do you have a pre-existing chronic respiratory condition?

Are you not able to drive yourself?

Are you unable to leave your home, or do you leave home with great difficulty using a wheelchair, walker or cane?

Are you currently self quarantining?

If you’ve answered ‘Yes”, call the Senior Center at 631-749-1059 for shopping assistance.

If you answered ‘No’ to the questions above, please know the Shelter Island Town and the IGA have put many safety measures in place so that you can safely go and shop on your own.

They are as follows:

• Disinfecting of carts and baskets before and after use.

• Hand washing/disinfecting before and after shopping.

• Limit to 15 shoppers in store at a time.

• Markers on floor to promote social distancing.

• Designated attendant outside store to enforce these safety measures.

Julia Weisenberg is organizing IGA volunteers and scheduling, Ms. Mundy said. “She’s doing a great job,” she added. “It’s a big responsibility. We check in with each other many, many times a day.”

Asked how she’s coping personally with the stress at this time, she said, “I make sure to take some time for myself. I know how important that is and I don’t want to burn out. I don’t know how the doctors and nurses are doing it. It’s really incredible.”

Laurie Fanelli and Supervisor Gerry Siller have been concientious about checking in with everyone to make sure they’re all right and have what they need, Ms. Mundy said.

A professional singer and musician, Ms. Mundy said she’s been asked by a number of people if they can find any of her performances online to soothe them during these anxious times.

“I may make a video or livestream if or when I can get a little time,” she said. “I miss playing. And I miss many people of course, but hopefully this will all be over soon and I can get back to giving everyone hugs.”