NORANDA resident Lilyana Massey calls Red Cross Telechat and Telecross volunteers “earthly angels” who helped her get through the loss of her sons.
The fiercely independent 90-year-old said she was left “in a very dark place” when her second son Peter passed away from cancer in 2009.
“There were no grandchildren, no daughters-in-law… when I packed up my beloved son’s clothes I thought I’d donate it to the Red Cross,” she said.
“I spoke about my solitary life and how I felt very vulnerable being alone.
“You hear about people dying and not being found for two years; I didn’t want anything like that happening.”
Ms Massey said the Red Cross helped her get involved with two of their programs nearly seven years ago, Telecross and Telechat.
Telecross was a daily check-in service, while Telechat provided weekly social phone calls.
“I think of them as earthly angels, knowing someone is there and you’re not really alone,” she said.
Bicton Telechat volunteer Michelle Francisco has spoken to Ms Massey for more than a year now and the pair met in person for the first time last week.
“It’s fascinating… when you’re talking to somebody who is 90, they’ve got so many stories; we talk about everything,” she said.
“(The service is) about connecting those people that are isolated in the community, to have an open-ended chat, friendly, non-judgemental space for people to talk about their interests, anything.
“A lot of them do not have any family at all and a lot of them are isolated through disability or frailty.”
The pair talk about Ms Massey’s extensive list of hobbies including the organ, “golden oldie” movies, opera, reading and a 400-page novel she penned.
Red Cross helped 20,000 people living alone in 2015 and encouraged the Australian public to donate to Red Cross programs to help thousands of lonely Australians at risk of serious illness or injury this winter.