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Nonprofit 'Phone Pal' system connects Glendale senior with new best friend in California

Posted at 6:24 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-05 07:24:54-04

GLENDALE — In this Rebound Milwaukee report, we found a resource for seniors managing the pressure during this pandemic.

A Glendale senior shared how she beat loneliness during the pandemic.

It was the help of a volunteer who talks to her on the phone every week. Four months later, the two have created a lasting bond.

The non-profit organization creating these lasting friendships is called Friendly Voices. It is just like having a pen pal, but it is over the phone.

Doris Appelbaum did not reveal her age, but her spirit is younger than most of us.

“I’m a very outgoing social person,” Appelbaum says, adding, “I was an English major and a journalism minor. I like to talk!”

Doris still works as a career coach and writes resumes for people looking to land their dream careers nationwide. When the pandemic hit, she says, “It was like literally the rug was pulled out from under me. The best word I could use is depressed. Depressed and lonely.”

About four months ago, she was on LinkedIn and found a link to a non-profit called Friendly Voices.

“I thought, 'alright that’s worth reading because that’s lots of us.' It's not just the nursing homes. Plenty of my friends live in homes the same way I do,” said Doris.

She matched with someone two time zones away: 33-year-old Claudia Ring in San Jose, California.

“None of our phone calls are under an hour, some of them go to two hours. We just really like each other,” Doris exclaimed.

The non-profit reference checks every volunteer and promises to document each phone call. Claudia said she was ready to help so long as “They had someone who was opinionated.”

“…and I said you got it!” Doris said, laughing.

“We talk about pretty personal things. Even with regards to having children or how to make the next step in my career. She’s always available for that discussion,” said Claudia.

Doris is thankful, saying “This was absolutely wonderful, and Claudia likes to talk too. We were a perfect match, even though there's a major, major difference in age - it doesn’t matter!”

Here is your Rebound Rundown:

  • Friendly Voices is a non-profit organization, which has vetted volunteers that are:
    • Reference checked.
    • Trained and supervised.
  • All calls are documented.
  • HIPPA compliant.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports as of 2019, more than 125,000 people are 85+ years old in the Badger State. There are more than 6 million people in the U.S. who are 85 years old and up. By these numbers alone, you can see how many more seniors out there who may need a connection like this.

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