CAMDEN — For many seniors in the Midcoast, having to primarily spend time indoors and having their daily routines disrupted by social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging, lonely, and distressing.
That’s why Rep. Vicki Doudera, D-Camden, who represents District 94 (Camden, Islesboro and Rockport) in the Maine House of Representatives, has organized a phone call check-in program with her senior-aged constituents.
The inspiration to phone call check-in program for individuals in her legislative district came after Doudera spoke with colleague Rep. Chloe Maxmin, who has had success with the program in District 88 (Chelsea, Jefferson, Whitefield and part of Nobleboro).
“I figured it would be a good way to reach out to seniors in our area at this strange time and help fight the loneliness that can come with isolation,” said Doudera. “A little bit of conversation can go a long way, especially if you are home alone, and by reaching out we are able to determine if their are community needs caused by COVID-19.”
Doudera has inspired a team of nearly 60 volunteers to place weekly check-in calls to 2,780 seniors, age 70 and older, across Camden, Rockport and Islesboro.
“We introduce ourselves and ask how they are doing, listening for any needs around medication, food, etc.,” Doudera said when asked what recipients can expect during the call. “We ask if they have any specific COVID-19 related issues, and note whether or not they would like to receive a weekly call. I'm happy to say that while the majority of people say they are fine, some have had questions around getting services. Many also welcome the contact and say they would like to hear from us again going forward.”
In the first day, Doudera and her team had made contact with 25 percent of Doudera’s senior-aged constituents.
Though a similar program is conducted by the Camden Police Department for seniors in Camden and Rockport, Doudera and members of the police department felt it would beneficial for seniors to receive calls from both groups during the pandemic.
Despite a few hangups where recipients mistakenly believed the caller was a scammer, Doudera reported the first day was a success and volunteers had nice conversations with very appreciative people.
At the same time, the volunteers enjoyed making the calls and speaking with the area’s seniors.
“I am so impressed with our community's sense of solidarity, compassion, and even humor,” Doudera said. “I asked one gentleman in his late 80s if there was anything he needed, and he said ‘Just my spent youth, darling!’”
Those interested in making phone calls as part of Doudera’s volunteer group can contact her at email@example.com for more information.
Reach George Harvey at: firstname.lastname@example.org.