Hamilton County, TN – This year has been full of challenges for everyone.
Everyone has had to adjust to the new “normal” but Senior citizens have been hit particularly hard by the new way of life.
This age group tends to be at a higher risk for contracting COVID-19.
Many senior citizens have been in a true quarantine and have barely left their homes during this trying time.
The pandemic’s level of confinement and physical distancing has curtailed normal avenues of socializing at senior community centers, church functions, family outings, salon or barber shops and medical appointments.
Many Seniors have quit going to their local senior centers or the centers are shut down altogether. Besides telephone contact, many have had no contact with their friends and family.
The Center for Disease Control refers to social isolation and loneliness in older adults as a serious public health risk that can complicate existing medical conditions.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Report pointed out more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely and one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.
This is where Goodwill truly shines in 2020.
Along with the Juanita C. Grant Foundation, they have created a national program that allows seniors to help other seniors have more contact with the outside world.
Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program created the special project “Village Connector Experience”.
Fellow seniors age 55 and up are able to participate in the program. Each senior in the program can apply for the job through Goodwill.
They are assigned roughly a dozen seniors to call each week. This allows isolated seniors to have contact with others who are in their own age group and not feel so alone.
According to Goodwill, Each call will strive to motivate the member to decrease the level of isolation through small steps termed “experiences”. Those experiences may be returning to gardening in the back yard, reaching out to their adult children or participating in one our virtual events. Those events will range from story readings, tea times and coffee clutches.
Members may elect to have greeting cards, letters or surprise packages sent to them.
Calls are scheduled Sunday through Friday, morning or afternoon, 1 to 3 times per week.
The volunteer callers, termed “ambassadors”, receive 16 hours of education by JCGF that aims to provide a boost to those individuals that register as a member of the Village Connector Experience.
Each call is assessed and rated by the Ambassador to determine if the member is moving towards more social engagement. Progress is monitored monthly. Ambassador performance is tracked by the Village Connector Experience Coordinator. Data is reviewed on a regular basis to continuously improve services with the goal that the member will become self-motivated in breaking the cycle of social isolation.
Goodwill created this project in July. COO of the Chattanooga Goodwill Industries Jim Stailey indicates that he hopes the program will last past the current COVID-19 scare. He stressed that the project is especially important during the holidays.
To find out how you can get involved, click below.