Program matches volunteers with lonely seniors

Published on Wed, Apr 14, 2010
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The Whatcom County Interfaith Coalition’s Friendly Visitors program will offer a training session during April and May for individuals who wish to make a difference in the lives of isolated older adults.

The program benefits seniors throughout Whatcom County who have little social contact with friends or family and are waiting to be matched with compassionate volunteers who will visit them weekly at home.

Individuals interested in working one-on-one with seniors in need of caring human connection are invited to participate in an orientation and training session on Wednesday, April 21 from 6 to 9 p.m. or on Tuesday, May 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Saint James Presbyterian Church, 901 14th Street in Bellingham.

After attending the three-hour training session, volunteers are matched with seniors whose health and well-being may improve with weekly visits and telephone calls.

All volunteers and seniors are interviewed and carefully screened to ensure the most compatible matches are made.

Visits may involve conversation only or may include activities or shared hobbies and common interests. Volunteers also may help seniors to participate in social activities outside of the home.

Physical and mental-health consequences from the lack of meaningful social contact are well documented in numerous studies. Benefits include improved self-esteem, mental health and alertness; reduced stress; lower blood pressure; less risk of heart disease; and fewer tendencies toward smoking or obesity.

 For more information or to reserve a space, call 756-5179.