Phone pals help local seniors cope with loneliness

Phone pals help local seniors cope with loneliness

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Senior Resource Center (SRC) is looking for more volunteers for their Phone Pals for Friendship program.

Phone Pals for Friendship has been a program at the SRC for ten years. It’s an outreach program that provides phone calls and companionship for isolated and home-bound elderly residents in the community.

“We basically want people to not feel alone and isolated so we take out list from the home delivered meals clients and then I match them with the volunteers,” said Valorie Hatten with the SRC. She helps coordinate the program has less than a dozen volunteers, but nearly 70 who want to be called.

“We have people on the wait list that need to be called and want to be called,” said Hatten. “Basically, these are people saying they want phone pals; we’re not soliciting. They are saying yes, I want someone to call me.”

Hatten only has one male volunteer, David Norwick, but would like to see more. Norwick has about a dozen people he calls every two-three weeks and says he looks forward to it every time.

“When two weeks is up, I can’t wait to get back to calling because they seem to really enjoy it and I’ve really become involved and enjoying it too,” says Norwick. “I keep asking for some more people to call to build my list up bigger and bigger.”

“I’ve got about half a dozen that say I just can’t wait to have your calls so when you get done doing this you have such a great feeling because you’re bringing some joy and some good things in their lives,” said Norwick.

Norwick says he talks to the callers about their health, well-being, and almost anything. He says sometimes a conversation can last 60 seconds and other times, 30 minutes. He says it all depends on the person.

You must be at least 55-years-old to volunteer. You don’t need to have your own phone; you can use a phone at the SRC.

If you’d like to be a Phone Pal for Friendship volunteer, you can contact Valorie at 910-798-6485 or email her at vhatten@nhcgov.com.

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