SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Since the pandemic began, many seniors are feeling lonely and isolated, and those who used to be a part of the Salvation Army’s Senior Day Program are now getting connected through a brand new Senior Lunchtime Chat led by National Grid.

Each morning at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, a group of at least one, but as many twelve seniors, join in on a phone call. They exercise, play games, and simply talk to each other.

“The greatest achievement that I see for this is that it helps those in the community, even if its just one, to overcome loneliness,” said Carlene Lacey, the U.S. Community Relations and Operations Manager for National Grid. She heads the Grid for Good Program, which is where the lunchtime chat came out of.

Grid for Good is a corporate social responsibility flagship program with National Grid. Typically, they work with local charities to help youth between the ages of 18-24 in finding jobs. Specifically, they direct them toward the energy field, but because of COVID-19, they were no longer able to meet with those young professionals.

So, Lacey reached out to those at the Salvation Army, asking them if there was anything they need help with. Those at The Salvation Army mentioned they were hearing from their seniors that they’re feeling lonely during this time. That’s when the chat line was born.

Since then, the Salvation Army has been delivering meals to those who used to be in the day program, and also dropping off flyers for them to join on the daily 11 a.m. phone call.

“This one hour, kind of takes me out of the anxiety or the worry,” said one senior caller.

They started back in April with a small group, but they’re now reaching seniors outside of Syracuse and even the state. The seniors are maintaining anonymity as other callers cannot see their phone number or their names.

“I look forward to being on the phone at 11 o’clock. So I make sure there’s nothing stopping me at 11 o’ clock. It makes my day go faster and I have something to look forward to,” said another senior caller.

“I just feel like this is the social hour of the day. With ladies that I don’t know physically, but I know in my heart and in my spirit,” one more senior chimed in during a daily phone call.

Feedback that makes Lacey emotional, as she’s the one facilitating many of these calls. National Grid has had more than a dozen people serving as the host for these calls.

However, after the virus settles down, they won’t be able to keep it going. Those at Interfaith Works have offered to take over. In that case, they hope to connect to seniors living in nursing homes, too.

Anyone senior who wants to join in on the phone call, can. All you have to do is call 1-866-662-9987 and enter the entry code: 253-501-455.

For more local news, follow Julia LeBlanc on Twitter @JuliaLeBlancNC9

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