Hillsborough County - The Christmas season can be a lonely time for older folks living by themselves. That's why volunteers for the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay are reaching out to our elderly neighbors with potentially life saving calls and visits.
On one end of the phone line, Clarabel Serrano, 67. On the other end, a Crisis Center volunteer reaching out to often homebound seniors.
"Sometimes we're the only call they get all day, except for their doctor and that's not a social call," says Christine Cory, a volunteer coordinator at the Crisis Center for the program they call "telephone reassurance."
Hundreds of seniors like Clarabel get these reassurance calls, but during the holidays, other volunteers like Fred and Laura Lay show up in person bearing gifts.
With infant daughter in tow, the Lays present Clarabel with a Publix gift card, but maybe more importantly, smiles and conversation.
"I used to live here with my grandchild, but they moved. I miss them a lot," said Clarabel to her visitors at her kitchen table.
"A lot of times they just want to have a conversation with somebody and communicate with somebody and it's great opportunity to do that," said Fred Lay who is also a Crisis Center Board member.
For Clarabel, who first contacted the Crisis Center six years ago for help with a domestic situation, the daily reassurance calls give her continuing peace of mind.
"They call me everyday to see if I'm safe. And that is very important to me," said Clarabel.
The next delivery is for Irene Smith, 73, who has been getting calls from the Crisis Center volunteers for about seven years. "Every day except Sunday. That's church day," said Smith.
The telephone reassurance calls have helped her deal with problems large and small.
Friday was a typical day for telephone reassurance volunteers. They contacted about 200 people in Hillsborough county..
If you'd like to register for reassurance calls or find out about volunteer opportunities, call: (813) 969-4932.