Friendly Visitors Transition to Calls
“It’s being a friend and making a difference in someone’s life,” says Paul Bemko when asked about being a volunteer in Springwell’s Friendly Visitor Program. Due to the risks of COVID19, seniors have never been more isolated, and need to hear that there are people in the community who care about them. To help keep everyone physically distanced yet socially connected, Springwell’s Friendly Visitor program has transitioned smoothly to tele-visits.
Paul Bemko is retired from an accomplished career that included working in the prison system, starting an alternative school, working as an athletic trainer, working to integrate disabled children in regular school curriculums and owning a green cleaning business. To make a difference during the pandemic in a way that would also allow him to stay safe by following physical distancing protocols, Paul’s visits with John are by phone.
Paul calls 89-year-old John every Thursday at 1:00 pm. “It is the easiest thing to do- chatting for 30 minutes to an hour on the phone- and it makes a difference in the life of an isolated senior. People are lonely but if you ask them questions then wonderful conversations are started. It is being a friend and I find it fulfilling.”
John has shared stories with Paul about his time in the Korean War. They enjoy talking about music and woodworking. Paul and John compare notes about what the west end of Boston used to be like. They talk about family and reminisce about what family dinners were like for each of them while they were growing up. John says, “we are both well versed in a lot of things and can talk about anything. I enjoy talking with Paul.” At the end of a recent phone call, Paul knew he was making a difference when John thanked him and said, “that I gave him a reason for living and that was a new lease on life.”
Will you help Springwell address the chronic and now aggravated issue of senior isolation by becoming a Friendly Tele-Visitor? Developing a one-on-one relationship with a senior in our shared communities will make a big difference by helping to alleviate their loneliness.
Springwell Friendly Visitor Volunteers are matched with isolated older adults in Belmont, Brookline, Needham, Newton, Waltham, Watertown, Wellesley, and Weston. If you enjoy sharing conversation and stories, this program is for you! Learn more here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.