Some Charlotte County seniors are feeling less alone with the help of a program run by the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
A trained CCSO employee calls enrolled members once a week to talk about their lives, or anything they want to discuss.
“It’s for that interpersonal connection that may be missing — maybe a spouse has passed away or kids live in another state,” said CCSO Community Affairs Specialist Chris Hall. “They know we’re thinking about you, we care about you, and you’re not alone.”
The Senior Outreach Program was created by Sheriff Bill Prummell in July, and about 30 people are now enrolled in the program.
When a senior enrolls themselves or is signed up by a loved one, they will schedule a weekly time between Monday and Thursday that a CCSO employee will call them. The employee will check in with the person, ask how they are doing and lend an ear.
Aside from having conversation, the employee can connect people with resources.
“God forbid they are having an emergency or need a service, they can relay that to us and we can connect them with an appropriate service,” Hall said.
The program has connected people with food services due to being unable or afraid to buy groceries because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prummell didn’t start the program because of the pandemic, he said, but it happened to coincide and be a resource for people who are isolated from friends and family.
People eligible for the program are over 60 years old and living alone. In Charlotte County, people 65 years and older make up 41% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 estimate. The county’s age demographic is why Prummell decided to start the program, he said.
Of the dozens of people enrolled in the program, only a few decided to stop — they realized they didn’t need it because they have a social circle or neighbors they can regularly talk to.
The program is staffed by CCSO community affairs employees, but as more people sign up, CCSO will gather volunteers to help run the program.
“We want to be that voice that calls them once a week says, ‘Hey, we care about you, we love you,” Hall said. “They love having someone to talk to. That’s what we’re here for.”
For information on how to enroll yourself or someone else, contact Community Affairs at 941-575-5345 or 941-639-2101.