Dawn Hetrick is a volunteer with the YCAAA who is part of the telephone reassurance program she calls elder folks just to chat on the phone at her home in
Dawn Hetrick is a volunteer with the YCAAA who is part of the telephone reassurance program she calls elder folks just to chat on the phone at her home in Manchester Township Tuesday January 7, 2013. Paul Kuehnel - Daily Record/Sunday News

Elsie Martin has never met Betty Picking but she looks forward to her weekly telephone calls.

It is the same with Salinda Heisler who eagerly awaits phone calls from Dawn Hetrick.

Pickling and Hetrick are volunteers with the Telephone Reassurance Program available through the York County Area Agency on Aging.

These calls are not a safety check but rather a way to provide socialization by telephone and a connection to the community for older adults in York County, Jenny Nace information specialists with the YCAAA said.

These weekly calls mean a lot to Martin and Heisler and other older folks who don't get out much. Except for caregivers who may stop by, these calls may be the only opportunity they have to chat about their interests and their concerns.

"We talk about everyday things, our little problems that we have and whatever else old people talk about. It's nice because we understand each other, we see eye to eye and if I have something on my mind she listens. I have never met Betty but I know just from talking to her that she is a very nice person and that she cares about other people," Martin, said.

Picking usually calls twice a week and if the call is a little late in coming Martin calls her, she said.

"I look forward to those calls. It makes your day," Martin said.

They are a way of socializing and sharing but they are also a way of checking up on Martin to make sure she is doing well, Picking said.

"I've been doing this for a long time, over two years and I've seen some changes in her since I started calling. Mostly I listen to what she has to say," Picking said.

Picking said she did a lot of volunteering over the years but these days she limits herself to the telephone reassurance program. It's a nice way for people who are not able to get out to stay in touch with the what is happening.

Heisler said she looks forward to Hetrick's calls.

Betty PickingSubmitted
Betty Picking Submitted

"We talk about a little bit of everything but she has a more active life than I do and I enjoy hearing about the things she does. We talk about everyday things and our little problems, you know the kind of things old people talk about," Heisler said.

"Dawn is an understanding person who cares very much about other people and I feel very fortunate that she calls me. We understand each other," Heisler added.

Hetrick, who lost her husband several months ago, said she is fortunate to have a son who is there for her, as well as many longtime friends and activities to keep her busy but she can understand why Heisler is often lonely.

"I understand widowhood. You don't unless you walk a mile in those shoes, so I understand how Salinda is feeling some days. She is a sweet lady and I enjoy talking with her. I ask her what she does and I tell her everything that I do. She is interested in hearing about how I spend my time. My life isn't that exciting but I do keep busy and she enjoys hearing about it," Hetrick said.