Volunteers Help Seniors with Chores, Groceries and Loneliness Amid COVID-19

Dozens of volunteers in Orange County have been checking on hundreds of seniors to fight isolation and loneliness during the pandemic.

Volunteer Mark Pennington says he regularly calls to check on a 94-year-old Peggy Coke as part of Saint Jude Medical Center’s ‘Cheer a Senior’ program.

“Peggy sometimes feels like she’s locked down in her own house. We have to talk more on the phone,” he said “There’s a lot of seniors that just don’t have anyone close by.”

Coke said she is so appreciative to have people who care.

“They help me with my laundry. With cleaning the house. Going to the grocery story. Keeping me company, so that I’m not lonely,” She said. “I couldn’t get along without it. They are so helpful.”

The Cheer a Senior Program started with 20 volunteers and about 80 seniors when the pandemic began, said St. Jude Medical Center’s Clinical Supervisor of Senior Services Carole Dupée.

But has rapidly grown to more than 80 volunteers and more than 400 seniors.

“The Cheer a Senior program involves calling older adults every week, checking in with them and making conversation so they don’t feel so lonely and out-of-sync with everything else,” Dupée said.

But it’s also about getting groceries or medication picked up.

“Very often we pay for those things,” she said. “But sometimes that’s hard for them to do.”

People can volunteer for the Cheer a Senior Program at Saint Jude Medical Center’s Senior Services.

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