Friendly Visitor Program Works to Reduce Senior Isolation

Program matches seniors with volunteers

Friendly Visitor Program Works to Reduce Senior Isolation

With social isolation impacting many older adults, meaningful interactions and warm conversations with others grow increasingly rare and simultaneously more important to those who may have limited access to a social network. JF&CS’ One Good Deed program aims to address this by matching older adults with volunteers in order to create newfound friendships and invaluable connections across generations. Spearheaded by Sharon Spiegelman, One Good Deed Manager, and Vivienne Kurland, One Good Deed Coordinator, the program has already matched 65 older adults with community volunteers.

Among the matches, Sheva Vapne, a Holocaust survivor, and Ellen Gebel have been matched together for over a year, and enjoy meeting every other week at Sheva’s home for a friendly visit.
Sheva and Ellen take walks outside, eat lunch together, and talk about anything and everything during their visits. Ellen even helps out with paperwork if needed. Ellen says, "I enjoy visiting with Sheva. I know it helps her to have someone to talk to and it makes me feel good to know that I make a difference for her."  Sheva comments that “Ellen is the best!  She is so considerate - she puts thought into every little thing she does to help me.  She is like family to me."

Of their friendship, Vivienne Kurland adds “It has been very rewarding for me, "the matchmaker", to see how much Sheva appreciates and enjoys the time she gets to spend with Ellen and to learn how their friendship has been mutually gratifying. This is one of the many "shidachs" One Good Deed has made that has been successful for more than a year!”

Sharon and Vivienne work hard to customize every match to meet the needs of each interested individual to ensure a long term, lasting friendship. Several matches have grown so close that they think of each other as family and have celebrated holidays and shared family milestones together. Each match meets approximately once every other week for two hours. Please note that this program is not designed to provide transportation to medical appointments or cleaning help, but to provide a friendly visitor and companion to one’s life. 

Sharon Spiegelman adds “I am so excited to have been able to offer the One Good Deed friendly visitor program to so many deserving older adults for the past 11 years! There are no guidelines for who we serve, although we cannot match those in assisted living or nursing home environments. We will do our best to accommodate all other locations. I look forward to meeting YOU soon!”

If you are interested in learning more about One Good Deed, please contact Sharon Spiegelman at 404-274-2431 or Vivienne Kurland at 678-978-1249. You may also email onegooddeed@jfcs-atlanta.org

Posted in Aviv Older Adult Services, Volunteer Services