John Dane got a nice present in the mail from his two grandsons, Gavin and Darian, as part of NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania’s KindnessWorks Challenge. SUBMITTED PHOTO

John Dane got a nice present in the mail from his two grandsons, Gavin and Darian, as part of NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania’s KindnessWorks Challenge.

A local nonprofit hopes people will find new ways to be kind during these unprecedented times.

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania recently launched the KindnessWorks Challenge, a social media initiative addressing senior isolation while following social distancing guidelines.

The challenge asks participants to be creative in spreading and showing kindness while practicing safe social distancing. Entering the contest is easy. Just document your acts of kindness through photos or videos and post on Facebook using #KindnessWorks for a chance to win prizes from NeighborWorks.Submissions can also be uploaded at https://woobox.com/g6d948.

Prizes will be awarded each week and include a Weber two-burner propane grill, a Yeti cooler and a Bose Outdoor Sound System. First place winners will be eligible for a Neighborhood Block Party.

The weekly prizes were chosen specifically because they can be used both while social isolating and after things return to normal.

“Hopefully, they will use the prizes to engage with an older adult in their community,” she added.

The idea for the challenge began when the pandemic halted NeighborWork’s Friendly Visitor program, which sends volunteers to the homes of older adults to combat loneliness and isolation. That initiative is part of the group’s Aging in Place program, which began in 2018. The program assists older adults with safety modifications, volunteer-led small home repair and low-tech modifications which allows them to age safely and with dignity in their homes and communities.

“As we were unable to provide Friendly Visitors services through the COVID 19 crisis, we decided to come up with another way to assist our older adults through social isolation prevention,” said Mary Endrusick, aging in place coordinator for NeighborWorks. “We thought that it would be fun for the community to get involved and the KindnessWorks Challenge was born.”

Submissions so far have included a young girl on a FaceTime call with her grandmother, a birthday surprise for a veteran and a young boy honoring his grandfather by wearing a military uniform just like him.

Jason Kaulich, director of the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, commends NeighborWorks for their work on the project during a crucial time.

“Before the pandemic, senior isolation was already one of our primary areas of focus and the coronavirus absolutely compounded the problem,” he said. “This will help us at least weather the storm while we’re living through it.”

Kavulich hopes the idea behind the project will lead more people to help their elderly neighbors with tasks throughout the year, like cutting grass and shoveling snow.

“One neighbor can make a difference and a neighborhood can change a person’s life,” he said.

NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania is a nonprofit community development organization that has for more than 35 years helped to revitalize neighborhoods and improve lives throughout the region by addressing the housing needs in the community.

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