Senior Companion Program Provides Friendship During Isolating Times
When Ann’s husband passed away, she felt lonely and decided to find a volunteer opportunity to help stay busy. She knew that she wanted to help people. “It’s my purpose,” she said.
Friends who were familiar with Catholic Charities’ Senior Companion Program (SCP) suggested that it might be a great fit for her. SCP matches volunteers, 55 and older, with homebound or socially isolated seniors for social visits.
Meanwhile, Shirley, 87, knew that she needed a senior companion. Visually impaired and living alone, Shirley needed support, but her small family lives out of state. So, she reached out to Catholic Charities to participate in SCP. Ann was matched with Shirley, and the two instantly became friends despite experiencing some nervousness before meeting.
“We are buddies,” Ann said.
Before the pandemic, the pair would shop, go to restaurants, and Ann would drive Shirley to medical appointments. Then, they would return to Shirley’s home to chat. No topic is off-limits for these two, including politics.
The pandemic prevents Ann and Shirley from meeting in-person these days, but they still talk every day – sometimes for hours. The past year has been isolating for many seniors, and Ann knows that Shirley has been lonely. The phone visits have been wonderful, but Ann reports that they “can’t wait to go back” to their regular visits. They both miss their time together very much.
Shirley values SCP and the help and companionship she receives from Ann. She reports that Ann helps her more than anyone else in her life. “It is good to have a relationship when you live alone,” she said. “Everyone needs somebody. You don’t want to be talking to yourself.”
This volunteer opportunity is very meaningful to Ann. “This is the best thing I have done in my life,” she said. “I wish other people would do this too and see how it makes other people feel.”
Volunteer opportunities with Catholic Charities’ Senior Companion Program (SCP) are available in Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, and Will Counties. Serving as a senior companion is a fulfilling way to meet new people and give back to the community. This is strictly a friendly visit; no homecare duties are involved. Senior companions who meet the income guidelines will receive a tax-free hourly stipend and a mileage reimbursement for time spent with clients. To learn more, please call Diane at 815-724-1223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Senior Companion Program is sponsored by AmeriCorps Seniors. Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, is a faith-based organization providing service to people in need and calling others of good will to do the same.
Kathleen Langdon Named Interim Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet
Kathleen Langdon, the director of the Offices of Development and Communications for Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet, has been appointed interim executive director of the agency. The appointment was made by the Catholic Charities board of directors and approved by Bishop Ronald Hicks.
Prior to his departure from the position, Glenn Van Cura said, “Kathleen has over nine years’ experience with Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet. During this time the agency’s campaigns, appeals, and events have grown substantially. The communications from the agency are highly professional and always promoting our mission as the social service provider for our Catholic Church. Additionally, Kathleen has a deep knowledge of programming and budgeting. She is a terrific ambassador for Catholic Charities and will do a wonderful job.”