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Rethinking visiting the sick in an age of mobile devices: calling the homebound

What could be simpler than a phone call? Yet it is exactly that phone call that can be a life-line for a homebound senior. Socially isolated older adults receive help in the form of a morning call from West Hollywood-based Jewish Family Service program Telecheck. It can be as simple as “How are you doing today?”

Gerry Feldman, 87, has been a Telecheck volunteer for about 13 years. She says she is happy to hear a voice on the other end of the telephone. “If a client seems not to sound well or complains about not feeling well, the volunteer will immediately report that to our office,” said Bronstein.

You might not have to look too far to identify someone in your own family who lives alone. Or you can call your local St. Vincent de Paul Society or Senior Citizens program to ask if they have people who could benefit from a call.

“The people I talk to are very lonely. It takes so little effort and time to make sure that they are okay,” Feldman said. “Some day I will get old and someone will call me. I get so much pleasure out of it.”


Ensuring that Healthcare for the Poor is Just a Call Away

The mobile industry can help improve health outcomes for anyone who can afford a $20 phone. For example, Grameen Foundation’s Mobile Health solutions focus on improving patient care for the poor by:

  • helping healthcare providers become more efficient
  • making modern medical information easily accessible and relevant to the poor themselves

In Ghana, a “Mobile Midwife” service sends weekly messages to pregnant women and new mothers, reminding them of appointments and providing health tips that reinforce advice from their local nurses. In addition, nurses can update their clients’ data on their mobile phones and access their records as needed. Since 2010, they have registered more than 11,000 pregnant women and families in the country’s remote Upper East Region.


The Cross

For Christians, the cross is a powerful symbol of our faith.  It reminds us not only of Jesus’ death, but of His life, and the impact He has in our world today.  His death was so much more than the ending of a human life; it was a new beginning for all of us.  Truly, His love never ends.

As Christians we are all called to have a passion for Christ – to live our faith following His example.  But at some point, every Christian asks the question, “Where can I find Him?”  The answer can be found in Mathew 25 when Christ says:  “When you do it for the least of my brethren, you do it for me.  Every time we serve someone in need, we catch a glimpse of His face.  We see Him in the faces of ragged little children, men with broken spirits, elderly grandmothers and grandfathers.

At one time or another, we all have a “cross to bear” – whether it’s a financial setback, poor health or the loss of a loved one.  The Easter Season is a good time to reflect, not only on the crosses we have to bear throughout life, but also on the many blessings that God has given us.

For many of the homeless, life itself has begun to seem like a burden.  When every day is a struggle just to survive, it would be so easy to give up.  But so often, in the darkest hour of need, someone extends a helping hand, shining the bright light of Christ into a life that is almost at the breaking point.  Over 2000 years after His resurrection, our Vincentian Family is continuing Christ’s ministry.

Poverty is hunger and hopelessness, despair and desperation – but there is always hope.  As Christians, we are called to answer the cry of the poor.

We are all God’s instruments, and we become the living body of Christ when we reach out to the least among us.


The Power of Faith

Every day at St. Vincent de Paul, we see people who have lost everything but their faith.  They may not have enough to eat; they may be too poor to have a prescription filled; and some of them have no homes; but their faith is strong.  The assurance that God is in charge carries them forward from one day to the next, and faith gives them the strength they need to survive the most difficult of times.

In today’s world, we are Christ’s eyes, and we see the suffering in our community.  We are His hands, and we reach out to others.  Why do we become sad when someone else is in pain?  Why do our hearts break when we see a grandmother in ragged clothes, or a hungry child?  Those are the times we hear Christ’s voice most clearly, asking us to do what is right and good, to do what He would do if He were still here on Earth.   Across the ages, He still speaks to us if we will just listen.

People like Frances, in the photo, come to St. Vincent de Paul with nothing but faith and an unshakable belief in the goodness of others.  Before coming to our Vincentian Sweet Dreams Shelter, Frances and her twin daughters, Cynthia and Faith, had been abandoned and were evicted from their home.  Without us, they would have had nowhere else to go but the streets.  We were there for this family in their time of greatest need.  Who knows what would have happened to Frances and her precious little girls, or to thousands of others, if we had not been there for them?  The future of children like Cynthia and Faith is uncertain, but the possibilities are endless.  With faith, all things are possible.

After more than 2,000 years, His message lives on.  Our world may have changed, but our faith has not.  As disciples of Christ, we are called to love one another, to extend a helping hand to those in.  With His help, we can perform miracles.  We can turn misery into hope; despair into joy.  And through our Vincentian service to others, our own faith is strengthened.  What can you do as a disciple to bring Christ’s bright light into the world?