How a Brooklyn Coalition Is Fighting Isolation in Seniors with Low-Tech Conference Calls – Next City

“With the pandemic, it’s a different life now — you can’t hug your loved ones, you can’t visit them,” says Annie Everett, a participant in the Sharing Network. “But because I’m calling into [the Sharing Network] on a weekly basis, it really starts to feel like you’re talking to your friends.”

The Sharing Network — moderator-led discussion groups designed for seniors to access by phone — is a project of One Community, an organization founded in the adjoining neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, to address a glaring disparity: Though they are well-resourced neighborhoods with small and national businesses, colleges, cultural organizations and open space, the area also has the city’s second poorest census tract with a total of eight homeless shelters. One of the starkest divides is between the leafy blocks of multi-million-dollar brownstones and the chronically under-resourced public housing developments.

“It’s really a tale of two communities,” notes One Community founder Jed Marcus. “And the communities are separated as though by a wall that people aren’t comfortable on either side, people don’t call on the resources from either side, and people and institutions don’t adequately serve people on the other side.”

As COVID-19 further deepened those disparities, One Community joined a coalition of local nonprofits, public housing tenant associations and mutual aid networks to identify and serve the neighborhood’s most at-risk residents — low-income seniors not only vulnerable to the virus