St. Pete Friends
STRENGTHENING COMMUNITY THROUGH VIRTUAL CONNECTIONS
USF St. Petersburg is launching a program to provide outreach between students and seniors in the surrounding St. Petersburg community who may be experiencing heightened isolation due to social distancing measures enacted in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As part of social distancing measures, students who lived and worked on campus have returned to their family homes and those in senior living communities or in their homes who have been forced to isolate from their loved ones. This initiative offers an opportunity for community members to connect when we need it most through a call and pen pal program.
How it works
USF St. Petersburg students who would like to participate fill out an application form.
Students can choose from these 3 volunteer opportunities:
USF St. Petersburg is partnering with Area Agency on Aging of Pinellas and Pasco, which serves as a trusted resource to advocate, educate and empower seniors, adults with disabilities and caregivers to promote independence, in partnership with the community. AAAPP’s Telephone Reassurance Program reaches out to all its active and waitlisted senior clients throughout the duration of the COVID 19 outbreak. These calls provide seniors with both a wellness check in and information regarding emergency services available. Volunteers receive training and ongoing support throughout the program.
USF St. Petersburg is partnering with Seniors In Service of Tampa Bay whose TelePals program provides ongoing telephone reassurance to lonely seniors. TelePal volunteers offer social connection checks to help elders preserve mental/physical health & age in place during COVID-19 & beyond. Regular calls tell clients: “You have a friend who cares.” Volunteers ask considerate questions, communicate cheerfully about interests, check on client’s well-being, refer concerns to expert resources. All volunteers are screened & receive online trainings on Client confidentiality, Call logs, Do’s and Don’ts, COVID-19 Updates, Community Resources, Recognizing Health Problems, Elder Abuse.
In order to lift the spirits of isolated members of our community, USF St. Petersburg is partnering with Neighborly Care Network (NCN) to recruit students who can create letters, notes and cards with messages of encouragement and good thoughts. NCN will distribute the notes to the 2,000 seniors in their network, when they deliver meals to their homes. Students can write notes, cards or letters to seniors that include words, drawings, poetry, photos, whatever the creator feels would cheer up or encourage a homebound senior. The cards can be handwritten, typed or painted.
Individual senior participants wishing to receive companion calls from a USF St. Petersburg student via telephone can do so by signing up for the Seniors In Service TelePals Program. In the online application, please designate “Referred by USF St. Petersburg” in order to be paired with a USF St. Petersburg student.
Note to USF Alumni: Any USF Alumni who would like to be paired with USF St. Petersburg students for companion calls may sign up via the Seniors In Service TelePals Program and put “Referred By USF” when prompted on the application form so that Seniors in Service can match USF alumni with students.
Participants await confirmation of a match.
Student will contact senior applicants via preferred method.
Interested senior living communities may contact USF St. Petersburg to express interest in collaborating.
Staff can use this flyer to promote the program:
Download St. Pete Friends flyer.