Senior lunchtime cat offering companionship during the pandemic


SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – Since the start of the pandemic, many seniors have felt lonely and isolated, and those who were part of the Salvation Army’s Seniors Day Program are now connecting through a whole new chat for seniors at lunchtime run by National Grid.

Every morning at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, a group of at least one, but as many as twelve seniors, join a phone call. They exercise, play games, and just talk to each other.

“The biggest achievement I see for this is that it helps community members, even if just one, overcome loneliness,” said Carlene Lacey, community relations and community manager. US operations for National Grid. She runs the Grid for Good program, which led to the midday discussion.

Grid for Good is a flagship corporate social responsibility program with National Grid. Typically, they work with local charities to help young people between the ages of 18 and 24 find employment. More precisely, they direct them towards the field of energy, but because of COVID-19, they were no longer able to meet these young professionals.

So, Lacey contacted those in The Salvation Army, asking if they needed help with anything. Salvation Army members mentioned hearing their elders say they felt lonely during this time. This is where the chat line was born.

Since then, The Salvation Army has delivered meals to those on the day program and also dropped off flyers to join the daily 11am phone call.

“This hour, sort of takes me out of anxiety or worry,” said a senior caller.

They started in April with a small group, but are now reaching older people outside of Syracuse and even the state. Seniors remain anonymous because other callers cannot see their phone number or name.

“I can’t wait to be on the phone at 11 o’clock. So I make sure nothing stops me at 11 o’clock. It speeds up my day and I have something to look forward to, ”said another keynote speaker.

“I just feel like it’s the social hour of the day. With women whom I don’t know physically, but whom I know in my heart and in my mind, ”replied another senior in a daily phone call.

Comments that make Lacey emotional, because she’s the one facilitating a lot of these calls. National Grid has had over a dozen people serving as the host for these calls.

However, once the virus is installed, they will no longer be able to maintain it. Those at Interfaith Works have offered to take over. In this case, they also hope to connect with the elderly living in nursing homes.

Any elderly person who wishes to participate in the phone call can do so. All you have to do is call 1-866-662-9987 and enter the entry code: 253-501-455.

For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @ JuliaLeBlancNC9

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