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Program matches friends with senior citizens

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Diane Kilburn of Hamlin is pictured with Myrtle Patterson of Holley at Patterson’s apartment last week. The two have become friends through a home visitation program run by Catholic Charities.

HOLLEY – It started with a phone call and now Diana Kilburn and Myrtle Patterson have become close friends.

The two were paired up in a “Friendly Phones” program through Catholic Charities. Kilburn would call Patterson, a 95-year-old Holley resident, once or twice a week. The two clicked, and now Kilburn calls and visits with Patterson.

“It’s been perfect,” said Kilburn. “The moment I heard her voice I thought, ‘This is going to be great.'”

She likes Patterson’s sense of humor, her stories from years ago, and her determination. The two play cards and Patterson dominates.

Kilburn had lost her mother about two years ago and saw the ad for the “Friendly Phones” program. Catholic Charities started that for senior citizens who may live alone without immediate family nearby.

There are about 25 people in the program, making phone calls once or twice a week to seniors. Catholic Charities wants to include home visitations for some seniors. The volunteers are all screened with background checks.

Jim Morasco coordinates the program for Catholic Charities. He said it provides needed socialization and companionship for seniors.

“We’ve become good friends,” Patterson said about Kilburn. “She’s a keeper.”

Patterson has helped fill a void for Kilburn after the death of her mother. Kilburn encourages other residents to volunteer in the program and reach out to local senior citizens, either through phone calls or home visits.

Catholic Charities also has a caregiver support class for family members and friends helping to care for senior citizens.

For more information about the programs, call Morasco’s Albion office at (585) 589-7477.