A chat/crisis line for senior citizens that was set to begin operating May 1 launched more than a month early as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Los Angeles-based nonprofit behind the effort.
“I think right now in this climate we have to forego all the formalities and just jump in and help,” said Kimberly Lewis, executive director of the Los Angeles-based I Did Something Good Friday Foundation, which runs the free 24-hour chatline.
The GoldenTalk chat and crisis line — 888-604-6533 (888-60-GOLDEN) — began service Monday and is geared toward people 60 and above who are facing social isolation and are looking for someone to talk to, along with getting referrals to other organizations in times of crisis, Lewis said.
Concerned family members can also request wellness calls for older relatives.
The chatline — which has fielded about 25 calls within its first few days of operation — currently has 25 volunteers who speak languages including English, Spanish, Mandarin and Farsi, with another 30 volunteers expected to be in place on Sunday, Lewis said.
The organization is seeking additional volunteers who are friendly, have a love for senior citizens, have knowledge of how to use computers and are willing to commit at least four hours a week in two shifts of two hours each. The chatline also needs volunteers who speak foreign languages, including Korean, along with therapists who are willing to volunteer their services.
Prospective volunteers — who need a smartphone that can download the group’s app and can work from home — can contact the foundation through its website, www.IDSGTfoundation.org.
The chatline is primarily oriented toward people who live in Los Angeles County, but has some resources available for Orange County residents, according to Lewis, who said it is “definitely very important so they don’t feel lonely.”
“I honestly think it’s going to become nationwide,” she added.