Senior citizens, volunteers encouraged to try Friendly Phones/Home Visitation program

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 13 September 2022 at 11:35 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Lynn Creasey, president of Senior Citizens of Western Orleans, introduces Lisa Wittmeyer at the monthly dinner meeting Monday. Wittmeyer talked about the Friendly Phones/Home Visitation program sponsored by Catholic Charities in Orleans and Genesee counties.

MEDINA – Members of the Senior Center enjoyed a potluck luncheon and welcomed a guest speaker at their September meeting on Monday.

After the regular business meeting, monthly prize drawings and lunch, president Lynn Creasey introduced Lisa Wittmeyer from Catholic Charities in Batavia, who talked about the Friendly Phones/Home Visitation program.

The program has been in existence for at least 20 years and is funded in Genesee County by the Marshall Fund Family of Programs and anonymously in Orleans County.

The program is available to any senior 60 or older who has limited ability to leave their home. Its purpose is to provide socialization, companionship and assistance, Wittmeyer said. No personal care, medical care or transportation services are provided.

Volunteer visitors are screened and matched to the senior they will visit. For instance, they might share like interests, such as past job experiences, or both played the organ.

Before a volunteer is assigned to visit a senior, Wittmeyer visits the home and does a case management, checking for adequate fire exits, working smoke detectors and no evidence of rodents.

The volunteer visits for an hour once a week, during which time they might play cards, cook together or fill out greeting cards. Visits may also include hobbies, crafts, reading, doing puzzles or listening to music.

There is no fee for a volunteer to visit under the program and hours are flexible. Seniors may request a home visitor themselves or be referred by an agency or faith-based community.

Benefits of having a regular home visitor include feeling less isolated and lonely. Catholic Charities has determined seniors look forward to simple acts of kindness and assistance that enable them to live independently. Also, seniors gain peace of mind and enriched living through their connection with a home visitor.

Anyone interested in becoming a home visitor or in receiving a home visit may call Wittmeyer at (585) 343-0614 or NY Connects (Office for the Aging) at (585) 589-3191.