Since retiring from the federal government a few years ago, Shirley Yearwood has found the time to volunteer at a food pantry and at a senior center.
This past year, however, her volunteering has allowed her to interact one-on-one with older adults who live in isolation.
Twice a week, as an Empowerline One2One Program volunteer, Yearwood calls three adults ages 60, 66, and 82 to converse and offer suggestions on how to occupy their time.
“This is not only helping me, but it’s also helping them,” Yearwood says. “They look forward to my calls. They hear my voice and are so excited. You can tell that this is truly helping them feel less isolated.”
Yearwood encourages them to go for a walk or drive (if they’re able to), do a puzzle, find words, enjoy the sunset, take pictures of nature, and find things that bring them joy.
Yearwood retired after her mother was diagnosed with dementia and a fall left her unable to walk, resulting in her being placed in a nursing home. When the COVID-19 pandemic came, the family couldn’t visit, and Yearwood’s mom didn’t understand why.
Unfortunately, her mom passed away within months of the pandemic. This experience motivated Yearwood to reach out and connect one-on-one with older adults who face social isolation.
“I get to be engaged in someone else’s life,” she shares. “This makes me happy, and I look forward to bringing joy to someone else’s day.”
If you’re interested in engaging one-on-one with older adults through the One2One phone-based outreach program, visit Empowerline’s One2One page.