To help address feelings of isolation and loneliness that people might experience while living alone, the Canadian Red Cross offers the Friendly Calls program. This program pairs trained Red Cross volunteers with adults who may have limited social and family connections or feel they could benefit from more social interactions.
Christa Kerr, Territory Manager at Baxter Canada, has been a Canadian Red Cross volunteer for a couple of years and joined the Friendly Calls program in late 2021. She participates in weekly, scheduled phone calls with the person she was paired with to provide wellness checks, companionship, community resources, and sometimes just to chat about the weather.
"I know the pandemic has flipped our lives upside down, and many people are struggling with mental health," says Christa. "If I can help someone just by talking to them over the phone, I feel it's important to do so."
She decided to join the Friendly Calls program because it reminded her of when she would call her grandmother, who lived alone. The highlight of her grandmother’s day was receiving a phone call from a family member because it helped her feel loved and cared for.
Christa is paired with a 60-year-old man who loves to cook and volunteer at his church. He lives with his 17-year-old son with autism and faces the daily challenges of being a single father while managing his own medical issues. She describes him as a very enlightened person who has a lot to deal with in life. Their calls give him the chance to talk, be heard, and enjoy some 'me' time.
"During the first couple of phone calls, we explored each other's personalities, interests, and families," explains Christa. Now that they have been talking for a couple of months, they discuss what it's like to parent an autistic child, the struggles and the rewards, and explore helpful resources provided by the local community and the Canadian Red Cross. He tells Christa how grateful he is for their calls and how he looks forward to the conversations every week. “We have developed a very meaningful connection, and I am so pleased that I can help bring him some happiness,” says Christa.
The Friendly Calls program is a great opportunity for anyone who has a desire to help others and likes to talk on the phone! Christa highly recommends joining the program, and those interested should know that not every conversation is easy and being consistent is very important. "The training provided by the Red Cross is excellent and really prepared me for this role. After your first phone call, you realize just how much of an impact you can make by being a friend and a good listener. It's incredibly rewarding," added Christa.
Through the Baxter Canada Welcome Home program, in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, employees have the opportunity to volunteer in various initiatives, including the Friendly Calls program. We are proud of Christa's commitment to helping others as it brings to life Baxter's mission of saving and sustaining lives and building stronger communities.
Want to learn more about the Canadian Red Cross Friendly Calls program? Click here to visit their website.