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Making the calls that make a difference for our older adults

On a normal day, Joel Schwarz, Major Gift Officer for the Jewish Federation, spends a lot of time on the phone, talking with donors. However, last week, Joel found himself volunteering to make a different kind of phone call: one to an isolated older adult in his community.

Joel signed up to participate in our Jewish Federation Phone-a-Friend program, a program that matches individuals with an older adult in the Greater Philadelphia area for weekly check-in phone calls. Isolation is a serious health risk for older adults, with some professionals suggesting it has a comparable health impact to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This program helps combat the isolation that older adults experience during this time of social distancing. 

After being connected with Michael, a senior living in the Northeast, Joel gave him a call and the effect was palpable.

“When I called Michael and introduced myself as a Jewish Federation volunteer, I could hear the relief and appreciation in his voice that someone was reaching out to say hello,“ Joel says.

The conversation was casual and light as they chatted about where each grew up, their professions, and what their plans were for the rest of the day.

“Just knowing how hard it was for me this past week as someone in their 30's living alone, I can only imagine what it has been like for Michael,” Joel reflects. 

Michael and Joel now have plans to talk about twice a week for the foreseeable future and even though the conversation may have been short, it certainly made an impact at both ends of the phone line. “I know it made a difference in Michael's day because it made a difference in mine.”

Are you able to make two phone calls a week to check in with a local older adult in our Jewish community? Fill out this form to be matched with an isolated community member and start making an impact today. 

Looking for another way to get involved? Volunteers are still needed to pack and deliver food to those experiencing food insecurity. Sign up for a shift today:

  • Mitzvah Food Program: Drivers are needed from the Mitzvah Food Pantry sites in Center City, Main Line and Northeast Philadelphia. Deliveries generally take less than two hours. Once you sign up, someone will be in touch to schedule your exact pickup time. Sign up to volunteer here. 
  • KleinLife: KleinLife Home Delivered Meals program is an essential need for 700 homebound seniors. In the KleinLife loading dock in Northeast Philadelphia you will be given gloves, meals packed in freezer bags, and a delivery route. After delivery, emptied freezer bags should be returned to Kleinlife. Your exact volunteer time will be arranged beforehand. To volunteer, contact John Eskate at jeskate@kleinlife.org.

For more Jewish Federation resources on COVID-19, click here. Donate to our Emergency Response Fund here