Establishing a Buddy System

Photo by Elien Dumon on Unsplash

We’re social distancing to protect those in our culture who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and flatten the curve. As I’ve spoken with a few co-workers and parishes, we’ve been discussing that while it’s important that we distance ourselves for their physical health, we need to find ways to take care of their mental, emotional, and spiritual health. All that in addition to basic needs like groceries and medicine.

I love what Our Lady of Mount Carmel is doing to establish a buddy system for the members of their parish who are over the age of 75. They made a call for volunteers and received more than 300 responses. Each volunteer was given the name and phone number of a few members of their community over the age of 75.

They’re calling to check in, provide their name and number in case groceries or medicine needs to be picked up, something is needed around the house, or even more significant, company is needed.

Leonard J. DeLorenzo wrote about this for Our Sunday Visitor the other day quite beautifully!

Social Distancing doesn’t need to be cutting off contact with those we love and those in need. It separates us physically, but the great thing about technology in our world is that we are every connected.

Lisa Hendey wrote about how Alexa is helping her hang out with her parents in a way she’s never dreamed would be necessary before.

How can we help? What do people need? Kindness, Generosity, Faith, Support, Community … all of the things our neighbors have needed … now’s the time to make this a reality. I love this card Jacob created to use with his neighbors.

I’m reminded of this quote from Mister Rogers:

We are the helpers, now is the time that we’ve been preparing for!

So how do you get your parishioners involved?

  1. Put out a call for volunteers. Use email, social media, the homily during your next live streamed Mass. Ask them to share their info via email or even a form on your website so you can quickly gather a lot of information.
  2. Pull a list of people you want them to call from your census software. You can sort by age and call those over 65 or 75.
  3. The divide the list between those who have volunteered, a max of about 15 per person.
  4. Ask them to call within the next 2 days. Then again in a few days, continuing to be a pillar of support either with deeds like getting groceries or picking up medicine or with their presence of being a friend, praying together, and being community.

Lenny put this together for his parish outreach. Be sure to update the parts in yellow and customize the forms for your need. (if you have an issue downloading, please email me and I’ll send them over)

Loneliness is always a concern for our seniors, those who live alone, and those in nursing homes. Now that their regular visits have been cut off to protect their physical health, they need also need support to protect their emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

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