One of the most vulnerable population groups in the coronavirus crisis now has a new outlet to avoid social isolation amid the social distancing meant to keep them safe.
Seniors across Massachusetts identified through a state commission called "Grandparents Raising Grandchildren" will get phone calls from volunteer state troopers under the new "Chat With a Trooper" program, Massachusetts State Police and the State Police Association of Massachusetts announced Friday.
The friendly conversation is primarily designed to ease fears and provide companionship to those most isolated while stay-at-home orders are keeping families apart.
Troopers who participate will be given resource documents before making their first call, police said. The program is set to run until the state of emergency restrictions are relaxed, at which point state police and the police union hope to bring the participants together at some kind of event.
The idea came from Cathy Draine, director of community engagement for the union. A long-time community organizer familiar with the needs of elders, Draine said in a statement that everyone should be concerned about the elderly facing social isolation.
She said that "grandparents who are raising their grandchildren have become particularly vulnerable because many are homeschooling children who also don't have the usual opportunities for interactions with their peers. We saw this as the way for our troopers to lend some support through a friendly phone call."
The head of the state police, Col. Christopher Mason, offered his thanks to participating troopers.
"I have no doubt these conversations with our treasured elders will be richly rewarding for our Troopers, and I hope the recipients of these calls enjoy them as much as I know the callers will," Mason said in a statement.