Loneliness and isolation are health hazards, especially for the elderly.
Springfield senior services gave a $5,000 grant to Glenmeadow retirement community in Longmeadow for its Neighbor to Neighbor program.
Glenmeadow President Anne Thomas has recruited 30 volunteers, who will take training to lift the spirits of the person they’re assigned to visit.
“It’s an epidemic, loneliness is an epidemic in our country,” said Thomas. “It especially affects older adults, people over 80, they’ve had so many losses in their lives.”
“I think if people just reach out a hand, these people that need a hand, they don’t even know themselves they suffered a loss just being isolated, somebody cares,” said Mona Holtman, a volunteer.
The neighbor to neighbor program begins after the first of the year. Before that happens, the 30 volunteers will undergo training at Baystate Medical Center.
Glenmeadow is being assisted by First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, Temple Beth El in Springfield and the Longmeadow Adult Center.
Coordinator Anne Thomas said she hopes the nine-month Longmeadow program can expand, to one day help alleviate elderly loneliness throughout western Massachusetts.