CONTACT Cape-Atlantic provides a FREE "check-in" phone call to the elderly and disabled who are living alone. This call allows them to remain independent in their own home, a goal so many of us share. If a phone call is not answered at the scheduled time, there are procedures each volunteer follows. These procedures have allowed CONTACT Cape-Atlantic to help many people in need.
CONTACT Cape-Atlantic was started to keep in touch with elderly and disabled living alone and to let them know someone cares about them. Now this successful program has grown to help anyone, regardless of age, have contact with another friendly person. Our volunteers help over 200 adults each day stay in their homes independently.
Reassurance Program is funded by The Older Americans Act through Atlantic County Division of Intergenerational Services.
Ellen Van Winkle found CONTACT to be a natural link with her former career.
“I worked for doctors for 26 years and did a lot of talking to people on the phones,” says the Northern New Jersey native and one-time front-desk employee, who retired a few years back and moved here to be with children and grandchildren.
“Talking on the phone has been easy for me,” she says. “For so many years it was answering questions like “when can you fit me in for a doctor’s appointment’ or ‘how long will this take?’”Now Ellen is the one asking. About how clients are. Or whether there is anything particular on their minds. Ellen performs two shifts weekly from home and has found the experience gratifying.
“Some people know it is CONTACT, they are happy you checked in on them and that’s fine, “she says. “Some people would like to chat for a while. When you think of how some people can be house-bound or not have any family, or that they could be lonely, you understand how difficult this can all be for them.”
Ellen has enjoyed watching her grand-kids grow up and has attended many of their soccer games. She is an avid gardener, cook and a Linwood resident happy “to be in such a wonderful neighborhood. When I moved in here, people came up and introduced themselves. We have people here who are all ages.”
Ellen’s journey to this area produced a lifestyle she laughingly calls “happy but not exciting.” Yet to the clients who receive her calls, Ellen is a valued, and caring, link to betterment in their lives.
By Dave Bontempo