When Erin Welborn was a child, her mother always told her, "If anything ever happens to me, everything you need is in the green box." Erin was too young to know about the importance of insurance policies and birth certificates. She just knew to give the green box to an adult if anything should happen. "Mama said it, so it must be true," laughs Erin when she recounts this story.
As an adult, Erin recognizes the kindness her mother showed by making sure her children wouldn't have the burden of finding important documents in an emergency. It's a kindness Erin inherited, and it keeps her motivated to give families in Charlotte their own "green boxes" for security and peace of mind.
To accomplish this goal, Erin founded Green Box Solutions in 2016. The nonprofit provides education, resources, and valuable information to those who have questions about eldercare, retirement preparation, and aging. Erin wants Green Box Solutions to be a one-stop source of assistance for people who don't know where to start.
Erin's passion for helping seniors and their families has only deepened in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. "The senior population has been devastated by the coronavirus," says Erin. "Seniors who are homebound or live in long-term facilities often do not have the budget or resources to protect themselves."
Sadly, Erin is absolutely right when she says the senior population has been devastated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 8 out of 10 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have been people over 65. Sarah Szanton, Director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at John Hopkins University, puts it bluntly:
"I think there's a fair amount of ageism—of people thinking right now, even if they aren't saying it out loud, 'Well, older people are going to die anyway.' But who are we to say that an 80-year-old wouldn't have otherwise lived to be 100 and done a lot of wonderful things in those 20 years? We would never think that the first 20 years of someone's life don't matter; we should recognize that the last 20 years are just as valuable."
To that end, Green Box Solutions has pledged to create at least 1,400 coronavirus kits to keep seniors in Charlotte safe. These kits include cloth masks, disposable gloves, antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer.
"With the primary focus being on supplying frontline workers with safety items, it is extremely difficult for seniors to obtain basic safety items. In fact, some of the seniors we work with do not have any safety items at all," says Erin.
For many seniors on a fixed income, or those without family close by, getting one of these kits grants them the freedom to walk past their front door or be in the same room as another person. For someone dealing with the devastating effects of loneliness and isolation, this is huge.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Green Box Solutions is a newer, startup nonprofit, which means your financial donation can touch many lives. Donate at greenboxsolutions.org and spread the word about their GOOD work. Your gift can help Erin achieve her dream of opening a physical location — a life-size Green Box — where she can hold community workshops and volunteer events.
Want to help with the coronavirus kits for local seniors? Erin specifically needs two-ounce hand sanitizer bottles. If you have access to these, or would like to donate other supplies, email Info@greenboxsolutions.org or call (980) 622-4926.
Finally, Erin wants to build a robust network of senior-serving agencies organizations and people in the Charlotte area. If you would like to learn about partnering with Green Box Solutions or you have a referral for her network, contact Erin here.
DID YOU KNOW: Green Box Solutions is in the running to win $5K this month thanks to the Amy and Brian France Foundation who have partnered with SHARE Charlotte for this year’s Spotlight Series and YOU can help when you VOTE NOW! You can also check out the other organizations eligible to win this month’s prize, here!