There are 12 Shelter Island seniors, 10 women and two men, who receive a phone call every weekday morning, They are part of a Telephone Reassurance Program that is unique to our Island.
Currently, there are four volunteer callers. Henrietta Roberts, the coordinator of the Office of Senior Services calls on Monday; Fran Morino on Tuesday; Carolee Gray on Wednesday; Virginia Schultze on Thursday; and Janet Rescigno on Friday.
The calls provide these seniors who live alone with a chance to talk with someone. The calls also give them a chance to ask for something — a grocery item from the IGA, perhaps, or to request a ride.
I asked Henrietta what type of personality she is looking for in her callers. “They should want to do the job,” she said, “and they should be friendly.” She gives each of her callers a list of names and goes over the background information they might need to spark a relationship with the person they are calling.
If her callers suspect an emergency situation, she advises them to call the Shelter Island Police Department, not 911.
The Telephone Reassurance Program was started in the late 1980s. It is basically sponsored by the Town of Shelter Island through its “agent,” for want of a better word, the Senior Citizens Affairs Council.
To sign up for the program, call the Office of Senior Services at 749-1059, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.