Belleair outreach program a beacon of hope for at-risk residents

Alec Decato, an intern with the Belleair's parks and recreation department, helped launch the Community Outreach Program, which focuses on delivering groceries to elderly and chronically ill residents of the town.

BELLEAIR — With events in the world changing rapidly, it’s easy to feel lost at sea and in uncharted waters — especially if you are elderly or dealing with chronic illness.

In an effort to shine a beacon of light during these murky days, the town of Belleair has launched a program to help those most in need.

The Community Outreach Program for COVID-19 will focus on delivering groceries to elderly and chronically ill residents of the town.

Spearheaded by Alec Decato, an intern with the town’s parks and recreation department, the program launched March 20.

“With the cancellation of events, I have turned my focus toward the Belleair community during this time in need,” Decato said.

According to Decato, the program is geared toward residents who are at risk during the outbreak, including adults older than 60 and those who have underlying health conditions, especially those who are abiding by Centers for Disease Control guidelines to self-isolate and practice social-distancing.

“On a personal note, I have grandparents who mean a lot to me,” Decato said. “I don’t want them to be put at risk because of people in my own age group who don’t think this is a big deal.”

Through the program, qualifying residents can place grocery orders of essential items at local retailers and a city employee — most likely Decato — will pick them up and deliver them to homes for no charge to residents.

Decato said essential items will include prescription medications, nonperishable foods, grocery items, hygiene products, and paper goods, when available.

To request assistance, residents can fill out an online form at www.townofbelleair.com/covidhelp. Decato will call residents and discuss their order and how to place and prepay the order. If residents aren’t tech savvy, or don’t feel comfortable with ordering online, they are encouraged to call Decato, who will walk them through the process.

Cathy DeKarz, a management analyst with the town, said she hopes the program will take off.

“This is for our residents, and if we can get the word out, the sooner we can help,” she said.

For more information about the program, call Decato at 727-242-0336 or email adecato@townofbelleair.net.