Isolation among older adults has always been prevalent, but with the pandemic, the proportion of isolated senior citizens has wildly increased. According to the latest U.S. Census, nearly 1/3 of all seniors live alone, and in June 2020, 56% of older adults said they felt isolated. According to one source, “this isolation can lead to depression, weight loss, cognitive decline, and other medical complications, research suggests.” We realized we could tackle this issue by leveraging a younger demographic to crowdsource letters.
For our Generation Match program, we partnered with a local hospital, nursing home, and high school. Participants aged ~16-24 years old apply to be a short- or long-term penpal with an isolated senior citizen, completely virtually. We match each volunteer to the senior with the most mutual interests and handle all of the communication between parties involved thereafter.
By cultivating our social media presence, marketing the ease behind this form of volunteering, and targeting a specific demographic, we have seen a 640% increase in volunteers in our program, with 1 international match, as well as 10,000% accounts reached on our social media within 30 days. We are unspeakably grateful for our success with the program so far, as it has demonstrated the power behind virtual volunteering with proper marketing, and hope to expand it further.