During a time of isolation, James City County and CrossWalk Church have teamed up to reach out to those most in need of social interaction.
When the coronavirus first came to the area, Pastor Mark Morrow said volunteers with CrossWalk immediately looked for ways to help the community. After reaching out to the county, they learned there was a need with the CONECT program for friendly phone calls to check in with residents, especially the elderly, while they are social distancing.
“Social isolation can be pretty significant with seniors,” said Ellie Rest, program coordinator for CONECT. “It’s an issue across the country and even more so now because seniors have to stay at home and feel as though they’re not connected with society.”
Rest said the friendly phone calls help elderly individuals, and anyone else who wants to participate, feel as though they have a way to reach out to the world around them.
Volunteers with CrossWalk have reached out to local senior care communities to spread the word that this information is available to them and James City County has been letting people know through its regular check-in calls.
So far, the program has garnered about 30 participants who chat about 30 to 45 volunteers from CrossWalk every other day. Rest said having this support for the county is important because the county doesn’t have the resources to call dozens of people multiple times a week.
“Everyone has been enjoying the concept of it because we’re all stuck in our little bubbles because we can’t be social or go to people’s homes to help them,” she said. “So this has been just another way for people to give to the community while still being socially distant.”
Morrow said the opportunity has provided some encouraging experiences for both volunteers and participants.
Volunteers have even been going out of their way to drive by homes and wave to participants when asked and one participant was allowed to talk to a volunteer through their glass door just to have a bit of face-to-face interaction while promoting safety.
“It’s honestly been heartwarming to meet that need for social interaction,” Morrow said. “It’s just beautiful people calling and engaging them in conversation just because they’re a human being.”
During phone calls, volunteers do not push any sort of religion or attempt to make a profit for the church, Morrow added.
Rest said while the program has reached out to many seniors, the service is available for anyone who wants to participate.
“We’re just meeting a need and telling people that we love them and want to talk to them,” Morrow said.
To learn more about the program or how to volunteer, call the CONECT program at 757-532-2611.
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