“There’s just so many people to call.”
Speaking to LGBT News Now, Eric Hauptfleisch (pictured, above), a volunteer for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Hello Club, added: “It would be great if more people got involved.”
The Center launched the Hello Club in March 2020 to call seniors facing a higher level of isolation or needing groceries and other essentials. To date, more than 8,400 calls have been made by an army of 237 volunteers. But the army has been dwindling lately—in the middle of a surge in cases of COVID-19’s Delta variant.
“There has been a serious decrease with volunteers,” says Danny Gonzalez, community engagement associate for Center’s Volunteer Resources. “When we launched, there was huge urgency. Now that we’ve been in a pandemic for more than a year, people have stopped thinking this is urgent still, but our seniors are still here and still love to receive these calls.”
Gonzalez urges community members to step up. Those who do so will be tasked with connecting local seniors to case management or to the Center’s Senior Angels grocery and essentials delivery service, when needed.
Volunteers will be required to have access to a computer, internet, and phone. The 40-minute training is done virtually.
Many times, trained volunteers just end up listening to a senior.
“It doesn’t take much effort to make calls to people — everyone can do it,” said Hauptfleisch who has made, at times, more than 30 calls in a week. “You are left with the feeling of having helped someone for the day and of having been of service.”
The Hello Club is confidential: a volunteer’s contact information will not be visible to a senior receiving the call. Time commitment is completely flexible and designed to fit into the volunteers’ schedules. Calls can be made at any point between 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
“People can make two calls before lunch or for 30 minutes after work,” Gonzalez says. “This program is one of the easiest ways to get involved from home and make a deep impact on the community. There’s no need to leave the house to make our seniors’ day—just show up with warmth in your heart and have the ability to show love to people in need.”
Ready to volunteer for Hello Club or for the Center in general? Visit lalgbtcenter.org/volunteer.