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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Using Election Campaign Tools To Check On Seniors

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY, formerly known as Wesley Community Services, is testing a phone outreach effort. Professional social workers will test a phone bank Saturday March 28. The agency is utilizing tech tools created by a company that would normally be doing phone banking and get-out-the-vote election efforts for campaigns.

"We'll pilot using the auto-dialer get-out-the-vote technology and this Mobilize platform, and if it works - if the social workers who make these phone calls say there's a lot of need out there - this is a really great way to reach these people and connect them to resources in addition to just checking in," says Jennifer Steele, executive director of Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH and Northern KY.

If it works, she says they'll also be able to use Mobilize to recruit, train and schedule volunteers to make phone calls. Mobilize is making its services free for COVID-19 reliefpurposes.

Steele says they agency will be able to reach more than just its clients. They plan to target people 60+ who live alone and those who are most vulnerable in Hamilton, Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties.

The group acknowledges that seniors may be wary of scammers right now, especially phone scams. The caller ID will show "Meals on Wheels," Steele says, and callers will identify themselves as with Meals on Wheels just calling to check in.

"All that they would be doing is asking 'Do you have enough food in your house?' 'Are you doing OK?' If someone says 'No, I don't have enough food, I could use some help with that,' then because we're testing this with professional social workers, they'll be able to flag that call through the technology for follow up."

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.