Do You Know About CheckMates? - SHIM

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Do You Know About CheckMates?

CheckMates quoteNot everyone knows about our CheckMates program, which serves seniors in the South Hills through weekly check-in phone calls from dedicated volunteers. The goal of the program is to reduce the isolation that seniors can sometimes experience while also offering resources to meet other needs. Since 2018, CheckMates has touched the lives of over 100 seniors!

Each year, CheckMates connects an average of 50 isolated seniors with caring SHIM volunteers. This provides seniors with the opportunity to openly share any concerns or express needs, all while forming meaningful companionship in an otherwise isolated setting. This enables seniors to feel more connected to their community. Through this facilitated connection, enrolled seniors often experience fewer mental health struggles associated with social isolation, positively impacting their overall health. When asked to rate their experience, seniors said the calls were meaningful and rated the program and their volunteers 5 out of 5!

“[My volunteer] is a beautiful and well-rounded human being. I wouldn’t change or alter a thing about the program. Thank you!” -Edith, CheckMates client

And it’s not just the seniors who feel the benefits of the program! Studies have shown that volunteering offers better psychological well-being and more positive emotional health. Direct relationships between volunteers and clients help to strengthen social trust by connecting those in need with those who want to give back. This personal connection is one of the many ways that SHIM works to build community. Last year, our 25 volunteers donated 791 hours to CheckMates!

Mary at pantry check in

Our dedicated CheckMates coordinator Mary works hard to create sustainable matches between volunteers and clients. By getting to know clients and volunteers, Mary uses criteria such as talkativeness, political leanings, past experiences, and personality to facilitate meaningful relationships. Her years of experience have taught her to be patient and responsible in guiding clients’ expectations. One eighty-year-old retired marine was looking for someone he could relate to but was skeptical that could happen. Mary found an eighty-year-old army veteran volunteer, and the client expressed gratitude at finding “one of his brothers in arms”.

“Carolyn is a real treasure to talk to. I really enjoy our conversations.” -Leda, CheckMates client

We work to be inclusive of all neighbors, knowing that those who need help also have much to offer. Several of our clients from other programs became volunteers, one of whom was Sue (name changed to protect anonymity). Sue is a current pantry client who has limited literary skills and faces employment struggles as a result. She relies on SHIM’s food pantry to help her receive nutritious food as she works to make ends meet. Still, Sue wanted to give back, and asked if she could become a volunteer. She loves to talk and was excited to become a CheckMates volunteer. Sue now has six senior clients who she calls, talking for more than three hours each week.

Are you interested in becoming a CheckMates volunteer? Head to to get started!

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