Local organization finds companionship for the elderly

POSTED: 03:33 PM PDT Oct 21, 2012    UPDATED: 07:08 PM PDT Oct 22, 2012 

Sometimes the elderly just want someone to listen to their stories. Companions Visitation Ministry, CVM, brings just that - 175 volunteers that interact in 13 assisted living centers across the Coachella Valley.

"We match our volunteers to one lonely senior citizen living in an assisted living facility, and we visit them once a week," CVM founder Carol Zadel said.

"We go out to the garden, we listen to music, sometimes read a book, and interact," CVM volunteer Nancy Lawrence said.

It's a ministry of Sacred Heart Church, but it's open to anyone who wants to change a life.

"Because the valley has so many senior citizens, and so many assisted living facilities, there is a need across the valley for this type of ministry, regardless of your denomination," Sacred Heart priest Father Howard Lincoln said.

"This is not anything regarding religion, we go for visitation only, and we accept any volunteer no matter what," Zadel said.

Valley youth also lend hands and hearts to the elderly. There is a group of Xavier Prep School girls that visit with seniors, and even put on a Variety Show for them. Sacred Heart School children also "adopt" a senior per grade level. One of the highlights of their involvement is Christmas caroling for the seniors during the holiday season.

CVM volunteers believe the elderly need a friend, someone to look forward to.

"When you get a visit from a family member, that's subconsciously an obligatory visit, where these people, our volunteers that come in, want to do it," Zadel said.

"The smile on an old person's face when you visit them, when you give them friendship, you're sort of their light at the end of the tunnel that week. It's great stuff," Father Lincoln said.

Volunteers say overall they just hope to give these seniors happier, better days.

To become a volunteer, call 760-776-1000. You can find more information on Facebook, at Companions Visitation Ministry.