Lonely No More

When Lisa Dietrich first heard about Empowerline’s One2One Program, she thought it just might be the answer to shaking the loneliness she’d been experiencing recently. Lisa, who is disabled, found the days to be long while her husband was away at work.  

She learned that the One2One program offered ongoing companionship through phone-based support to decrease social isolation and loneliness to at-risk adults over the age of 60 and people with disabilities who typically live alone, who may be homebound, and have little or no caregiver support.  The intent of the program is to provide companionship and support that may enable people to remain in their own homes and stay connected to their communities. 

Lisa initially thought One2One, might provide her with services, calling her and connecting her with a volunteer. However, she quickly shifted gears, deciding she wanted to be a volunteer and to provide companionship to someone else instead. 

At 62 years old, Lisa feels like she’s found a calling as a volunteer with the One2One program. And along with that calling to serve, Lisa is also enjoying the companionship she has found with the clients she serves. 

Jhazzmyn Joiner, Communications and Marketing Analyst with the Atlanta Regional Commission, recently spoke with Lisa about her time as a volunteer.  They talked about how she became involved in the program and about some of the highlights of her new role. 

Q: It seems like you wanted to join the program as a client and then decided to be a volunteer instead. What made you decide to become a volunteer? 

A: Initially, I was excited about being a client and getting calls. About 40 mins later, a light went off in my head. For the last 3-4 months, I’d been feeling like the Lord wanted me to be a witness for him. I felt I needed to show the world personally what Jesus would do in certain situations, so I became a volunteer.  

This made me even more excited and answered my prayers as to what I could do to serve others. It meant tapping into my compassion, caring, and listening skills. Listening skills was one of the main things I needed to have.  

Most clients can’t share feelings with those close to them. With me, there’s no judgement or telling them what they need to do. It’s just listening. I was thankful for Nicola Williams (ARC’s One2One program manager) accepting me into this program. Once I was accepted as a volunteer, I thought I could start the next day. But no… it didn’t happen that fast. There are security checks and training that all volunteers must go through. 

Q: What has been the most rewarding part of being a volunteer? 

A: Helping others. Listening. If they ask questions, they know that I keep it confidential. It’s just knowing that I can be there for them when they need me. I make myself available 2-3 times a week. Calls last anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. 

Q: In general, what do you and your clients discuss? 

A: We discuss a variety of things. Family issues, depression – which I have experienced and can recognize the signs – someone wanting to hurt themselves and getting them help if they will. We talk about health: and close personal problems. 

I currently have two clients and recently put in for a third. I think I can accept another person because I don’t work and have extra time. 

Q: How have the clients impacted you and made a difference in your life? 

A: My clients have greatly enriched my life by allowing me to be there for them and to give my time and care to them. I may have changed something in them, just a bit through what I say. And that’s a blessing to me. Sometimes it’s hard and I can’t change things and I feel badly. But I must rely on a higher power. 

I love my clients. It’s not a job. It’s more of a calling for me. I want to reach out and I enjoy talking to them. 

Q: What would you say to someone wanting to volunteer with One20ne? 

A: It’s an exciting part of your life to help others. Volunteering is a gift you give yourself and can return to people you talk to. Hopefully, you’ll go forth and help a lot of people! 

To learn how you might help people stay connected to their communities and even remain in their own homes, please visit Volunteer: One2One – Empowerline.