BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — It was difficult for Jay Roth to drive past the sign in front of the Maumee Senior Center each day and not feel compelled to help.
The senior center, which is located at 2430 Detroit Ave., across the street from Roth Insurance, posted a call for help after shutting down when the pandemic hit. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk.
“Obviously, the biggest thing that we saw being across the street from the senior center is the sign go up and the cars disappear,” Jay said. “How you can you drive to work every day and drive by that sign? You have to be a hard individual to not realize that you are lucky.”
Jay owns the insurance firm along with his brother Rick Roth and sister Lynn Roth Fouts. Together, they decided to step in and help the Maumee Senior Center. First, they made a cash donation to support a new sponsorship program, titled “Give a Senior an Air Hug,” which is a new initiative that supports senior programming under COVID restrictions. The program provides seniors with weekly activity packets that are designed to improve the well-being of their minds, bodies and spirits, especially since many cannot leave their homes, explained Maumee Senior Center executive director Malinda Ruble.
“The donation from Roth Insurance has been amazing,” Ruble said.
According to Ruble, since the Maumee Senior Center closed on March 16, the staff has been working to serve the needs of the senior population during the pandemic. First and foremost, the center has supplied food, with approximately 80 meals being provided daily either through no-contact grab-and-go curbside pickup or through home delivery for those living in Maumee, Toledo, Monclova, White-house, Waterville and Holland. Other programming is slowly being re-implemented, with virtual options and a tai chi class at Side Cut Metropark (see related story on page 2).
Roth Insurance next stepped in to donate cake and cookies from Thrush’s Bakery and Hass Bakery to accompany the meals.
“We found out that the seniors were really missing their desserts, and being a man of sweets myself, we donated desserts,” Jay said. “It also gave us the opportunity to buy from our clients, so it was a win-win proposition. I always like the opportunity to help our customers.”
In addition to Roth, several other businesses as well as individuals have donated funds to support meals for seniors, including JD’s Drive Thru, the Rotary Club of Maumee, Medical Mutual and Genesis Village.
“The meals are definitely needed. There are still a lot of people staying home, but the problem is that there is just not necessarily the funding for that amount of meals,” Ruble said. “We really miss seeing our seniors and we want to do all we can to help them. We have received over $22,000 from the community and we never would have made it this far without that.”
The donation to the Maumee Senior Center was one of many acts of charity that Roth Insurance agents have engaged in as a result of the pandemic, Jay said. In fact, several staff members who were working remotely reached out to organizations within their communities to lend support, donating to other charitable causes such as Helping Hands of St. Louis, Swanton Local Schools’ Backpack Buddies program and the Liberty Center Community Shelter.
In addition, one of Roth’s carriers, Erie Insurance Companies, matched every donation through a give-back program.
“We were able to broaden our span and do more than we planned through their generosity of matching donations with the agents to organizations that the agent deemed worthy,” Jay said. “There was no approval needed, we just had to do it, which was a great idea and a very unique one at a very bad time. They announced the program right about the time we had communicated with the senior center and had been discussing the hardships going on in everyone’s communities,” he said.
While he keeps track of donated dollars, he does not want to comment on it, saying instead that giving back is part of Roth’s business philosophy.
“We went nine weeks with employees working remotely and this was the highlight of that experience,” said Jay. “We are really not looking for notoriety, but our hope is that by highlighting these actions, others might be spurred to give or at least be more aware of this call to action. There are a lot of people hurting, so it is good to do something positive.”
To make a food or cash donation to the Maumee Senior Center, call the office at (419) 893-1994.