USFSP students help seniors combat isolation during pandemic through Tele-Pals

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Senior citizens in St. Petersburg living on their own may be struggling during this time of quarantine and isolation. Students at the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg are looking to help those residents in their time of need. The program, called St. Pete Friends, offers an opportunity for community members and students to connect via phone, video chat or even traditional letters to talk about their current experiences with social distancing, hear about another person’s life and share a much-needed laugh.

“As a public university campus anchored in St Petersburg and our region, we always look for ways to serve people, and this is another example of doing so during a difficult time,” said Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg. “Plus, as an older citizen myself, there is value in building stronger connections across generations, as college students have a lot to learn from their older neighbors and our older neighbors have a lot to learn from today’s college students.”

Seniors in St. Petersburg living on their own, including USF alumni, can sign up to be a part of the program and receive companion calls from a USF St. Petersburg student through the Seniors In Service Tele-Pals Program. In the online application, please designate “Referred by USF St. Petersburg” in order to be paired with a USFSP student.

“There is a real need for connection right now, as many in our community isolate. We hope this can help people out and form new relationships during this tough time,” said Caryn Nesmith, who oversees special projects at USF St. Petersburg and is coordinating the new initiative.

The city of St. Petersburg has launched a similar initiative. The Call from City Hall lets you sign up to chat with officials from the city of St. Pete. You can sign up online here.

Tombolo Books, a locally owned indie bookstore in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg, is also looking to help senior citizens in the Sunshine City. During the coronavirus quarantine the bookstore is sending large print books to nursing homes in St. Pete. You may place an order for our local seniors by typing donate in the comments line of your online order. The shop is also selling new shirts, “Stay Safe, Read Books,” and a portion of the proceeds will go to the #SaveIndieBookStores fund.

Metro Inclusive Health has also pivoted in these times to begin offering telehealth services for the Tampa Bay region.

You can access TeleHealth services for PrEPPrimary Care, HRT, Psychiatric Medication Management and/or Counseling online. If you would like to schedule a TeleHealth visit, contact Scheduling at 727-321-3854 ext. 1575. Follow Metro Inclusive Health on Facebook and Instagram for updates on new events, live streams, and fundraisers.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.