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Calling All Volunteers
CheckMates connects seniors with weekly phone call
By Kevin Brown


Alice looks forward to Wednesdays. That’s the day she and Carol catch up over a friendly phone call, where topics range from the weather and grandchildren to the Pirates and local news. In addition to their routine chitchat, Carol knows to look for signs that Alice, a 94 year-old native Pittsburgher who lives alone, might be in trouble.

Carol is a volunteer with CheckMates, a program of AgeWell Pittsburgh that hosts volunteers at its JCC locations and at South Hills Interfaith Movement, thanks to support from United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Open Your Heart to a Senior Program and Jefferson Regional Foundation.

Here in the South Hills, nearly one in five residents is over the age of 65. And as we see families move geographically apart, we know seniors have the potential to become more isolated. A weekly phone call can make a world of difference to a senior who might be lonely. And since volunteers are trained to identify potential problems, the weekly call is designed to keep seniors safe.

The beauty of CheckMates is that the friendship goes both ways. Both caller and call recipient, like Alice and Carol, enjoy the conversations with each other. And some pairings have lasted as long as CheckMates has been in existence here in Allegheny County – more than a dozen years! Today, more than 200 calls a week are made to seniors throughout our county. And the need is here for more volunteers.

As a volunteer, you make calls once a week and the phone line can be a literal lifeline when you sense trouble, like a recent fall or mention of a utility shutoff notice. To be the recipient of a weekly friendly phone call, you just need to be age 60 or over and a resident of Allegheny County.

Thanks to CheckMates and volunteers like Carol, Alice isn’t the only one looking forward to Wednesday. We all are, knowing our seniors are safe at home.

To learn more about volunteering or signing up to receive calls, contact AgeWell’s Amy Gold at (412) 697-3528 or SHIM’s Mary Amatangelo at (412) 854-9120 ext. 116.



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