'Cheer a Senior' program helps older residents with essentials and companionship

Volunteers in demand as St. Jude Medical Center Senior Services program grows during COVID-19 pandemic
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As seniors cope with living alone during the ongoing pandemic, the "Cheer a Senior" program is tackling isolation and loneliness by helping with not only shopping or errands, but also build long lasting connections.

The initiative was launched after Senior Services at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton found dozens of Orange County seniors vulnerable to depression and social isolation.

"Older adults who are lonely are much more likely, for instance, to be a fall risk. They're much more likely to be a target for elder abuse or for scams that are directly aimed at older adults," said Karyl Dupée, clinical supervisor with St. Jude Medical Center Senior Services, part of Providence St. Joseph Health System.

More than 80 volunteers, like Mark Pennington, check on seniors every week to see if they need things like groceries, prescriptions - or just simply someone to talk to.

"I feel like I do a very small part, but if more people were to get involved, we could help more seniors," said Pennington, a volunteer and CT office coordinator at St. Jude Medical Center.

Pennington says being there for seniors resonates close to his heart since he was raised by older parents.

"Without this program, I would really have to struggle. And, I would be kind of at loss," said Brea resident, Peggy Coke.

"Someday I may need help; I hope there's somebody out there that would willing to help me if that time comes," said Pennington.

If you would like to volunteer or are a senior in need of assistance, call St. Jude Medical Center Senior Services at 714-446-7035.
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