'That little bit of companionship': Volunteers making phone calls, deliveries to Saskatoon seniors during COVID-19 pandemic
SASKATOON -- A friendly phone call or a video chat could make all the difference for Saskatoon’s aging population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m sure a lot of them are feeling the same as we are, isolated,” said June Gawden, executive director with Saskatoon Council on Aging (SCOA).
Public stay-at-home recommendations from the provincial government have pulled the plug on several events the organization had planned for March and April including SCOA’s biggest annual fundraiser, a country music showcase at the Western Development Museum.
“I miss the programs that we’ve been running,” Gawden said, adding they staff are looking to for options to provide programming over online video chat.
Rather than in-person "Hub Club" events such as trivia nights and social gatherings, Gawden said SCOA is testing out a new method, online video, to deliver these programs.
“We’ll have a virtual program with a presenter where we will teach people to use Zoom and then they can tune into a presentation and have a social component to it,” Gawden said.
For older adults looking for help navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, Gawden urges them to reach out to SCOA and to check its website for information and resources for older adults under the COVID-19 link.
“For people that don’t have access to the internet, they can phone our office or email, we’re always checking and will get back to them quickly,” she said.
Volunteers pitching in to keep seniors safe
Gawden told CTV News she’s been working with an COVID-19 community group on Facebook, trying to connect seniors to those offering help. What started as a grocery delivery service is now evolving into more personal interactions.
“They are also doing these friendly telephone calls,” she said, adding volunteers are given names and telephone numbers to call. “Checking in to see if they need anything, just to have those seniors who are not able to connect and to have that little bit of companionship.”
Jarrod Sigstad is one of a handful of drivers who has spent that past two weeks delivering groceries to older adults staying home to reduce the threat of COVID-19.
He was off work because of COVID-19, “so I thought I might as well help out and help out some people who can’t get outside,” said Sigstad, an electrician.
He credits students at the University of Saskatchewan for all the work done in setting up a Facebook page and email so people can contact the group for assistance.
With about 40 deliveries under his belt, he said he’s reminded why he does this every time he knocks on a front door with his next delivery.
“I like the feeling of seeing people happy and appreciative of what I’ve done for them,” he said, adding anyone looking for his services is asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sigstad said delivery is free of charge.