Member Success Stories: Community Impact
Of all the committees that the Junior League of San Francisco (JLSF) offered when I transferred here from the Birmingham, Alabama, chapter last June, the Institute on Aging Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief-Related Services (IoA) and its Friendship Line intrigued me the most. Located at the IoA, the Friendship Line is a crisis intervention hot line and a warm line (non-urgent calls) for routine phone calls that provide emotional support, reassurance, and well-being check-ins for aging adults and people living with disabilities.
Through the IoA, I have learned that more than 40 million Americans are now over age 65, and the likelihood of living alone increases with age, as does the prevalence of depression. To combat this loneliness and depression, people of any age, but primarily elderly individuals, can call the Friendship Line and talk to a trained volunteer. Before volunteering at the IoA, I had no idea about the need for elderly individuals to have a place to call to vent, discuss their troubles, or just hear a friendly voice who cares. Sometimes the Friendship Line is the only connection an elderly individual has to the outside world. Even though this service is for the caller, it has helped me as a volunteer to forget my own anxieties and feel empowered to make a difference in my life and others’ lives. I have gained empathy, shared hope, and learned to be an active listener rather than a fixer.
Although training to become a Friendship Line volunteer was extensive and the calls are not always positive, it has been totally worth it to feel like I can make a difference in at least one caller’s day. When other volunteers at the IoA ask me how I heard about it, I proudly say I am a member of the Junior League of San Francisco, and many times I get to explain who we are as an organization. I feel that our passion for learning, volunteering, and being an advocate for the entire community is evident in not only my volunteering at IoA but in all the work we do as volunteers in and around San Francisco.