Phone Pal program provides companionship through conversation to those who feel isolated

Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 6:18 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - The pandemic has left many people home-bound or isolated, so a Fox Cities nonprofit started a program meant to create new connections.

The nonprofit Volunteer Fox Cities works to address a number of community needs, some of which have grown since the pandemic began.

“There are many members of our community who feel isolated during normal times and now that has just been heightened,” said Jan Sommerfeld, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Director at Volunteer Fox Cities.

Sommerfeld says that’s where the Phone Pals program comes in.

“Phone Pals is a program designed to increase the socialization for people who are isolated, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sommerfeld.

People who sign up for the free program will be matched with a trained volunteer. Then the pair will decide when and how often the calls should take place.

It’s not meant to be a crisis line, but a line for social connection.

“Just for a check in, a friendly conversation, just to see how their day is going,” said Sommerfeld.

A simple check-in that Sommerfeld says can go a long way for people who are especially isolated during the pandemic, particularly the elderly or people with disabilities.

“It’s critical,” said Sommerfeld. “It can mean the difference between someone having a good day or someone being prone to having depression and anxiety. That simple phone call can really brighten someone’s day.”

Sommerfeld says there’s enough volunteers right now, but not as many people utilizing the program.

“It may be that there’s a stigma, maybe people don’t want to be connected with isolation,” said Sommerfeld.

But she hopes more people will be encouraged to sign up.

“They will really be thankful they did,” said Sommerfeld.

People can register online or by calling Volunteer Fox Cities at (920) 832-9360.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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