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About SOWN Together

SOWN Together is SOWN's COVID-19 print newsletter for Philadelphia area older adults. It informs participants of the latest COVID-19 news & resources, and encourages them with positive stories from the community. SOWN Together is produced biweekly and mailed to all SOWN participants. To be added to the mailing list, please contact Jill Smith, Newsletter Coordinator, at 215-487-3000 ext. 24 or jsmith@sown.org. It is also available online. This project is funded by The Knight-Lenfest Fund, The Independence Public Media Foundation, Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and Knight Foundation. The goal of the Philadelphia COVID-19 Community Information Fund is to use news and information to empower vulnerable communities to make more informed decisions and support resiliency efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of SOWN Together Of the many services SOWN provides, a newsletter is the newest. It is designed for all participants, past and present, and was named by Saundra Atwell, a current member of Philly Families Connect. Here’s what it does for everyone:

  • SOWN Together provides current and correct information about the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
  • SOWN Together has stories from our readers, links for finding services, and, sometimes, a recipe.
  • SOWN Together responds to your questions, invites your suggestions, and welcomes your contributions to future issues.
Twins? Now!?
Tonya McBryde was the first person to join the first group of Philly Families Read Together. I spoke with Tonya in late July. Following is her experience of living in a world dominated by COVID-19. Q.: When did you first hear about COVID-19?

I first learned about the new virus at the end of March. People were talking more and more as it went on. There were 12 deaths and then more in different states. I got news daily from Channel 6 and CNN. Q.: How did you respond? I knew I had to act fast for masks, sanitizer, gloves – but nothing was left! I was looking for something in our cleaning closet and found masks and gloves. I
didn’t know they were there! Q.: How do you stay safe? I have a sign in the bathroom and kitchen, “Wash your hands.” Anyone other than family coming into the house, put on a mask. Anyone leaving the house, put on a mask. The oldest grandchild watches the news with us. I explain, “You have to be safe.” She knows and will say, “Mom-mom, I need my mask.” Q.: Is there a blessing in all this? My grandchildren are 7 years old, 4 years old, and the twins are 4 months. When my daughter went to the hospital, she had wipes and wore double masks in the delivery room. The twins lighten our world. One is attached to Pop-pop; one is in her own world. They are changing every day.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Tonya who she thought could explain to the younger generation how serious this is? She didn’t miss a beat to say, “Michelle Obama!” “Herd Immunity”
What’s that?
When doctors and reporters describe what it will take to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, or any virus, they talk about “herd immunity.” The “herd” is humans, “immunity” is protection, and it all depends upon having a vaccine against COVID-19. Here’s how it works. A vaccine contains a weakened fragment of a disease. When you're vaccinated against a specific disease, such as measles or shingles, it triggers your body's immune response to produce antibodies that naturally fight that particular disease.
Without being vaccinated, an individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected and can infect another person. It starts an unbroken chain of passing the virus from person to person to person to person, and so on.
Getting vaccinated breaks that chain of transmission. Like before, an unvaccinated individual who comes into contact with a person infected with the corona virus is likely to become infected. But if that individual has been inoculated, she or he will neither catch the virus nor pass it to anyone else.
Fewer people will be infected past that point, which breaks the chain of transmission. In fact, when more people are inoculated fewer people get sick. That’s herd immunity.
Over 400 vaccines and treatments are being tested by drug companies, universities, and medical centers to produce an effective and safe vaccine. It is likely that the United States will have at least one such vaccine by 2021. Once the vaccine is fully tested and available, herd immunity will be an important part of overcoming COVID-19.
[Information for this article was collect online from The Daily Pennsylvanian, WEBMD HEALTH NEWS, and United Press International.]
  • Comcast extends free high-speed web services to 12/2020

    • Comcast will continue to offer 60 days of free internet service for new low-income customers who sign up for Comcast’s low-income broadband program, called Internet Essentials. This offer extends through the end of the year. After that period, the service costs $9.95 a month. To learn if you qualify, go to https://apply.internetessentials.com or call 1 (855) 846-8376. If you call, be prepared to wait on hold for a long time.

  • Philly Families Read Together is a free SOWN literacy program for grandparents who are deeply involved in the lives of their young grandchildren. To learn more, contact Jessica Begley at jbegley@sown.org or call 215-487-3000 ext. 24.

Issue 2

We’re pleased to send you Issue #2 of SOWN Together, a newsletter with current and correct information about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Enjoy and stay well. This issue includes resources we can all use and the story of how one doctor is delivering services during the pandemic. Your voice counts. Be sure your vote is counted. You must be registered to vote. Questions about registration, mail-in ballots, and voting deadlines can be answered online www.votespa.com. If you prefer, you can call for: Election-related information: Mr. Garrett Dietz Supervisor of Elections (215) 686-3469 Voter Registration information: Mr. Greg Irving Acting Voter Registration Administrator (215) 686-1590 Free Library of Philadelphia Homebound Services Home delivery of library materials is a free service for times you are unable to leave your home. Applications for a homebound library card are by telephone. Benefits of a homebound card:

  • a loan period of up to six weeks
  • no fee on overdue materials
  • books can be requested by title
  • assistance in selecting books by category
Call 215-686-5411 You’ll get a recording of options. Choose the one for Homebound. Email homebound@freelibrary.org A Doctor Decides to do Something Dr. Ala Stanford may have thought of the old saying, “When white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia,” when she saw that Black and brown residents in Philadelphia were getting sick with COVID19 in greater numbers than white residents. The question was not “How can that be?” The question for Dr Stanford was, “What’s being done about it?” Nowadays, she is no longer asking. Dr. Stanford is doing. In mid-April, she launched the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium (BDCC), an independent mobile testing unit. Dr. Stanford rented a van, gathered supplies, asked for volunteers, and began traveling to parts of the city where more people were sick, but fewer services were available. The pandemic has not slowed down and neither has Dr. Stanford. By late July, BDCC had tested 7,000 people. To see the BDCC schedule for free testing, go to https://blackdoctorsconsortium.com. Economic Impact Payment The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until the end of September to register. To ask questions & get answers, email info@justiceinaging.org or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Herd Immunity Update We wondered if we were a herd and how many of us must be vaccinated to create herd immunity. Having 60- 70% of a population vaccinated would create immunity and slow the spread of a virus. We also learned we’re not a herd, we’re a flock. The 2020 Census The results of the census shape how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding are sent to communities for school lunches, hospitals, roads, fire departments, and more. To complete the questionnaire by phone, call 844-330-2020 or go to https://2020census.gov.

Issue 3

By November 3, this country will be in the throes of electing its next president. Join the millions of citizens who have the right to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t vote or that your vote doesn’t count. You can and it does. Cleaning from A to Z or how to stay safe in your home in spite of the pandemic There’s a right way and a wrong way to wear a mask. Be sure to cover your mouth & nose. The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is by washing your hands and practicing physical (social) distancing . . .The desire to clean and disinfect to prevent and protect everyone from COVID-19 is normal. But how much is too much? Are there areas in your home you’re neglecting?
Here’s a list from A to Z of common household items you should clean. We don’t have space for all 26 letters at once, so we’ll in-clude 2-3 letters per issue.
Do you have cleaning tips to share? Let us know by telling your group facilitator or by sending it to Jill Smith, SOWN, 4100 Main Street, Suite 403, Philadelphia, PA 19127 or by emailing jsmith@ sown.org. A is for Apple
Worried about eating fresh produce? Don’t let the virus stop you from getting a daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Disinfect counter surfaces before preparing food.
Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water and dry with either a paper towel or clean cloth.
With firm fruits such as melons, avocado, and potatoes, simply scrub with a clean vegetable brush.
There’s no need to wash poultry, meat, or eggs because cooking food at recommended temperatures kills the virus. B is for Boxes
Coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. You have a choice –

  • Disinfect your boxes with wipes or spray immediately after delivery. Do this out-side as an extra precaution.
  • “Quarantine” your boxes for 24 hours in an out-of-the-way spot before opening.
Either way, make sure you wear gloves and always wash your hands when done.
This information comes from an online article by Nadine Jolie Courtney. https://www.thehealthy.com/infectious-disease/coronavirus-cleaning-disinfect/ Please Note: Information used for this article was posted online on April 17, 2020, but information changes rapidly. Please stay tuned as we do our best to keep current with shifting guidelines. $ Economic Impact Payment $
The IRS has announced that eligible people with dependent children have until September 30 to register for an additional $500 per child. Act now! Email info@justiceinaging.org or call the IRS at 800-917-9835. Voting Deadlines
If sending applications or ballots through the mail, mail EARLY.
  • October 19 is the deadline to register to vote.
  • October 27 at 5 p.m. is the last day for your county office to receive mail-in and absentee ballot applications.
  • November 3 is election day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. If you are in line by 8 p.m., you will be able to vote.

SOWN Together Newsletter

Supporting Older Adults and their Families in the

Greater Philadelphia Area

4100 Main Street 

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Philadelphia, PA 19127


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