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June 20, 1986 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-20

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Both volunteers
and clients
benefit from
the Service
With Love

Special To The Jewish News

Marilyn Felder telephones a client on her list.

annie H. is 72. Childless and
recently-widowed, she lives
alone in Berkley, and has no
Or, at least she had no family
until about a year ago, when a friend
put her in touch with Sinai Hospital's
Service With Love, a program spon-
sored by the hospital and guild, which
provides free daily phone calls of help
and reassurance to aged and disabled
persons in the community.
"Now, it'slike we've become a big
family," says Fannie. "And I love
every single one of them. We talk
about things like the weather. They'll
ask me how I'm feeling; I'll ask them
how they are. Or we'll tell each other
little jokes, especially Jewish jokes. I
have one lady who calls me who's an
especially good teller of Jewish
stories. I like that. We laugh."
Celebrating its tenth anniversary
at Sinai on Sunday with a luncheon
honoring its many volunteers, Service
With Love was begun in 1976 as an
offshoot of a pilot project initiated in
the early 1970s at Pontiac General
Hospital. At Sinai, the program
started with a group of seven volun-
teers, who called 13 clients once daily.
Today, 425 volunteers keep in touch
with almost 1,000 clients per day by

phone and, in addition, send out
birthday cards, holiday cards, sym-
pathy cards, and get-well cards to
each client. Resource information is
also provided for a client's unmet
needs, and personal follow-up service
is implemented to make sure needs
are taken care of.
" Since its inception, Service With
Love branches have been established
at 14 area churches and synagogues,
and 10 smaller satellite stations set
up at various community centers.
"Our success story emphasizes
the tremendous need for this program
in our community," says SWL out-
reach chairman and former guild
president, Rose Greenberg, who
helped to found the service at Sinai,
after working to establish it at Pon-
tiac General.
Referrals to the service may be
made by hospital personnel, relatives,
or the community-at-large, and the
service is available to any aged or dis-
abled person in the area who might
want it, Greenberg says. It is never
initiated without the consent of the
client, she emphasizes.
Although many clients do live
alone, says. Sylvia Mevis, staff co-
ordinator, that's not a requirement for
receiving Service With Love. "Loneli-

ness, with our clients, is always the
No. 1 problem. We talk with a lot of
people who live with their families,
and they can be just as lonely as
people who live alone. The phone
doesn't ring for them. People they've
known throughout the years are gone,
and they really have no 'outside out-
Volunteers who make all calls
from their homes, range in age from
30 to 80. After completing orientation
classes (which are taught in-home to
housebound individuals), each one is
provided with a list of about 16
clients' first names and telephone
numbers. They are instructed to make
all of their calls between 9 and 11 a.m.
on one deSignated day during the
week, and as a result of this rotating
method, each client receives a call
from a different volunteer 7 days a
Clients' and volunteers' last
names are not revealed to each other,
in order to protect the privacy of both
parties. Usually, they never meet,
says Mevis.
A large number of volunteers are
themselves disabled or shut-in and
find that Service With Love provides
considerable rewards not just for
clients, but for callers, too.
One such is Marilyn F., 44, who
has multiple sclerosis, and has served
as a volunteer caller for about two
years. After her last stay in a hospi-
tal, her aunt suggested to the house-
bound mother of three grown children
that she call SWL and volunteer,
thinking it might help to get her mind
off her own problems.
"I thought, what the heck, I'm in
a similar situation to these people,"
says Marilyn. "I ought to be able to be
compassionate, anyway.
"Now, I find it very rewarding to
know that they look forward to my
calls. Some of these people are very,
very lonely and just need someone to
talk to. Much of the time, I don't even
talk; I just listen."
At orientation classes, callers are
reminded of the paramount impor-
tance of listening attentively to
clients. During the approximately
two-hour classes, volunteers are also
briefed on special problems of the el-
derly, and are taught to evaluate and
handle emergency situations quickly.
Should emergencies occur, volun-
teers are instructed to call Mevis at
the SWL office. She then gets in touch
with a relative or neighbor who per-
sonally looks into the situation im-
Marilyn says that she's had to
deal with an emergency situation at
least once in the last two years. When
one of her clients did not answer the
phone after several attempts to call
her, Mevis was notified, and it was

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