Senior Services-Senior Spotlight

Friendly Visitor Program Makes a Great Match

By Jo Dawson, Volunteer Writer

When Chris Harrison walked up to the house and rang the doorbell, he felt “a little apprehensive.” Would he be able to make Fred Montgomery comfortable? Could they become friends? When he left the house that day, Chris said, “I couldn’t wait to get back. He was so unbelievable and loving.” The matchmaker in this close friendship was Senior Services and its Friendly Visitor program.

Volunteer Chris Harrison (L) with Fred Montgomery

Volunteer Chris Harrison (L) with Fred Montgomery

Chris, who is 60, visits Fred, 94, once a week for about two hours. They soon knew a lot about each other. Now they talk or watch TV, exchanging comments about the shows they see. And finally baseball season is here. Occasionally Chris watches quietly while Fred takes a catnap. When the weather is warm, Fred grabs his hat and they sit on the porch, watching the cars go by. Chris and Fred also talk on the phone periodically. Eventually you become attached emotionally, Chris said, recalling his concern when Fred was hospitalized briefly for a serious cold.

Chris made friends with a lot of seniors while walking a letter-carrier route in downtown Passaic, New Jersey, for 25 years. “I love my seniors,” he said. “Everything that comes out of their mouth is meaningful.”

But his feet finally got enough of Volunteer the walking. He took early retirement with and started looking for a more peaceful place to live. The South was calling him, he said, “to a more natural style of life, slower, the way plants grow.” He found his way to Kernersville and relaxed into a life of books and TV, involvement with Walking Word Ministry and working part-time.

Then he Googled his way to Senior Services by typing in one word: volunteer. Sarah Harris, Home Care program coordinator, was delighted to sign him up for Friendly Visitors, a group of 20-plus volunteers. They agree to befriend and visit an isolated, lonely senior at least twice a month.

“They couldn’t have matched me with a greater guy,” he said. Fred, who recently lost his wife, is mostly homebound but not always alone. His son, Francis (Frank) Brown, divides his time between his father’s house and his own family home.

Chris occasionally brings Fred some of his home cooking. And Fred is proud of a new portrait of himself, taken, enlarged and framed by Chris. “Since I won’t be able to go to my family reunion in Maryland this spring, I’m sending the picture in my place,” Fred said. Chris is “the best man I’ve ever seen. I love him.”

If you’d like to volunteer contact Senior Services online at www.seniorservicesinc.org or 336-725-0907

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