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'Thank you for not forgetting us' | Community members rally together to raise food for senior facility

During the ‘shelter-in-place’ order, local residents and businesses like Argosy have been raising donations for the past month.

ATLANTA — Over the course of the past month since the announcement of COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic, it seems that nothing has been the same.

Thousands of residents have had to either adapt to working remotely from home or worse, temporarily or permanently, lose their primary source of employment due to the ‘shelter-in-place’ public gathering restrictions.

All the while, as the city was adjusting this limbo that many of us have dubbed the parameters of the ’new normal’, the most fragile percentage of our population has it the most challenging of all.

Our senior residents, individuals 65 and up, arguably just so happen to be the most vulnerable to the ravages of the Coronavirus infection.

For a number of reasons, but the most common denominator usually being a high propensity for pre-existing health conditions.

Add to that the reality that not only does the odds for contracting the COVID-19 skew in towards the elderly, the likelihood of coming in direct contact with someone carrying the virus lies within the very core of their support system. - their friends and family.

A sobering thought for many who reside at Branan Tower located on Glenwood Ave near Memorial Drive in East Atlanta Village. The eleven-story building has been a fixture of the EAV neighborhood for over 40 years and resides on Glenwood just west of Motor City and Blu Cantina.

“I have been doing social justice work I've been doing community, community projects for a long time. Probably since I was a kid,” said Liliana Bakhtiari, community organizer and founder of the donation drive for Branan Tower.“

“So, when I decided to reach out to Brandon towers to see if the seniors needed help, I know that I was going to see a lot of people without families weren't nearby, that they may not be getting the assistance they needed.”

Credit: Liliana Bakhtiari, community organizer and founder of the Branan Tower donation drive

Ironically, the building just so happens to be one other tallest structure in the neighborhood, although that stature doesn’t often translate into priority. Especially when nearly aspect of our daily lives is impacted in some form or another by the actual dynamics of the virus or the ordinances enacted to protect residents from it.

Healthcare. Transportation, public or personal. Not to mention food access. When it comes to supermarkets, the nearest grocery store is over a mile away. Long way to travel on foot.

As the numbers in for COVID-19 cases continue to climb towards 18,000 in the state of Georgia, it’s crucial for residents, especially this within high-risks groups to remain more diligent than ever. Every week, there are more and more nonprofits stepping up to offer their assistance to help senior citizens protect themselves.

When My East Atlanta News asked Argosy co-owner and manager, Armando Celentano about the community’s response to the donation drive, he has this to share.

Credit: Argosy East co-owner and operator, Armando Celentano in East Atlanta

“When we announced that we were doing this the response was overwhelming. We almost couldn't handle all the donations that were coming in in the first few days.”

Although when Celentano’s restaurant, Argosy closed the doors to its dinner area three weeks ago, their typical weekly revenue plummeted, although the restaurant does still offers pick-up and delivery during the shutdown to attempt to offset some of the financial burdens.

Since the citywide closures of dining spaces, Celentano has had to furlough all but eight of his fifty-four employees. He says that he's glad to have something this to keep himself occupied as well as at the restaurant on a daily basis.

While supplies continue to pour in from community in support of the seniors living at Branan Towers, Bakhtiari says that they’re not looking to rest on those laurels.

Having identified other nearby adult living facilities, they are looking to expand their reach to ensure that they offer the same kind of assistance to as many at-risk residents as they can.

For more information about the Branan Tower donation drive, reach out to the organizer, Liliana Bakhtiari here or if you are interested in contributing to their weekly donation wishlist, click the following line.

For more information about Argosy, visit their website.

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