Letter to the editor 2, July 22, 2021
One could ask if anything good came out of these past months. COVID-19 took an unprecedented toll, the likes of which most of us have never experienced and truly hope to never see again. As during other tumultuous times in history it is, however, encouraging to note that there have always been people who do what they can to help others.
At the outset of the initial COVID-19 lockdown a couple of Hudson residents expressed concern about the impact this confinement would have on local seniors. This kind of compassionate thinking is not new to Hudson. Memories of the 2017 floods with its huge community response inspired them to believe that neighbours would again step up to help neighbours.
It did not take long for the Buddy Program to take shape in discussions with the Town of Hudson, its approbation and support in registering names, the call to the community for volunteers and spreading the word that seniors could request a volunteer Buddy, and finally the matching of Buddies with seniors. Residents of the Manoir Cavagnal were also included in the offer for a volunteer. The goal was to provide support, stimulation, reassurance and an element of security to elderly individuals who were in self-isolation due to government directives.
To ensure maximum security for all, there could be no physical contact. In the early months, 60 volunteers from Hudson and area committed to daily phone calls to their assigned senior. Over 80 seniors had signed up. These calls exposed needs including how to order groceries when you do not use the internet, filling prescriptions, local restaurants offering delivery and what would happen to the mail piling up in mail boxes. Answers were found and shared. Above all these calls, with the reassuring sound of another voice and an attentive listener, broke the sense of isolation for many over the long winter of confinement.
Heading toward the summer of 2020 and with the easing of some restrictions, volunteers and seniors came to their own agreements concerning frequency of calls. A volunteer survey in June indicated how important their contact still was to so many. Buddies were encouraged to continue in case of a second wave if possible and, if not, seniors were reassigned. It was a good call.
We want to sincerely thank all Buddy volunteers for their kindness and persistence. They, and we, thought they were signing on for a few weeks at first. We kept notes on the program with November 23, 2020’s entry reading ‘253 days…YIKES!’ and February 8, 2021 reading ‘34 days shy of one whole year…YIKES!’
With the encouraging return to a green zone, we notified Buddy volunteers on July 1, 2021 that we were wrapping up this COVID-19 specific program and to please be in touch with their assigned senior. We could say ‘474 days… YIKES!’ but, as anticipated, we learned that many friendships had been formed.
We know the benefits of this program worked two ways. Volunteers wrote back thanking us for this experience with comments such as “I have found this a very rewarding experience and will continue to stay in touch with my senior,” and, “It made me feeI I was doing some little positive thing during this horrendous time. I feel I have gained a friend.”
These friendships will wrap into the sense of community for which Hudson is known. Others will remember the days they knew the phone would ring, they would hear the voice of their Buddy and be reassured they were not alone during these difficult COVID-19 days.
Something good had taken place.
Nora Geldart, Anne Tetro, and Gwen Connors
The Volunteer Organizers of the Buddy Program