Social distancing guidelines have reduced the spread of COVID-19, but lockdowns and isolation also have created or aggravated other well-being concerns. In the previous year, the pandemic was a time of reflection and downtime. Some people lived with their families during stay at home restrictions, while others had to live alone. Since there was so much uncertainty in the world the past year, many people were looking for some source of positivity to uplift their spirits. As someone who wants to uplift people, one 21-year-old from Panama found himself left in Miami for the duration of the pandemic. Though his family was only a 450-mile plane ride away, Baruj Avram was forced to stay in the United States, while waiting for the virus effects to subside. Taking advantage of the downtime, Avram spent time chatting with family and friends in Panama via phone.
“I’m from Panama and Panama was completely locked down,” he says. “I was forced to quarantine by myself for eight months and after a few months went by, I spent my birthday alone and I just felt so lonely. I wanted to connect with people who were going through the same thing. Then I discovered elder orphans and knew I had to help.”
After conducting extensive research on Americans who don’t live in close proximity to their families, Avram learned that a huge demographic was disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Baruj Avram learned that nearly 35% of elders in nursing homes do not have family and don’t receive many visitors. Filled with empathy and distress after learning about this forgotten demographic of people, Avram set out to change that troubling statistic. Six months later, with the help of partners Steven Manocherian, Natalie Manocherian and Daniel Manocherian, he launched a non-profit organization called Calls4Care. Designed as a platform that connects people with elder orphans that have no friends or family outside of their nursing homes, Calls4Care has since been able to connect more than 2000 volunteers with elder orphans. These connections have thus fostered community and life-long relationships that will long outlast the effects of the pandemic.
By way of a simple interview process, Calls4Care will pinpoint a volunteer’s interests, skills and life experience in order to pair them with the best elder orphan candidates. Even though the pandemic made forging social connections much harder, Baruj Avram has made it easier to forge connections through Calls4Care. To learn more about Calls4Care, visit theirwebsite.