AARP is doing its part to help those who may be having a difficult time coping with the coronavirus pandemic, especially older adults.
“Isolation existed long before COVID-19 and unfortunately going to exist long after,” said Will Stoner with the AARP Office of Volunteer Engagement.
Stoner helped create the Friendly Voices program, an outreach effort where anyone, not just senior citizens, can request to have someone call them just to chat.
The program launched in mid-March just as the pandemic was hitting the United States. It was overwhelmed with volunteers and right now, they don't have a need for more.
They've made 3,000 calls in two months.
“We have almost 200 people now that we have an ongoing relationship with that we're calling on a regular basis. That's good news because that means the program is working. The bad news is that people are feeling really isolated and lonely,” said Stoner. “The volunteers are trained to keep conversations positive. If they sense something is off, then AARP connects them to other resources.”
“We know that there are some people that are literally staring at four walls and have been staring at four walls for two months,” said Stoner. “So, if the conversation starts to turn negative, what the volunteer voice does is steer them to a more friendly and hopeful conversation.”
The calls are free. Click here for more information. You can fill out a Friendly Voices call request form or call the phone number. AARP is also offering other resources, like how to find food assistance.