Chris Schneider spent 33 years as a social studies teacher before he joined the Northeast Queens Senior Services. Now, as program manager, he spends his time finding volunteers to visit lonely seniors.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Schneider. “The elderly seem to be forgotten. Today, it’s becoming frequent that children don’t live near their parents because of jobs, and the elderly are left alone. Many get lonely, and we help to fill that void.”
The program — which is funded by Meals on Wheels and sponsored by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens — pairs seniors in northeast Queens with compassionate volunteers. Schneider said, among many activities, volunteers play cards, take a walk and watch television with seniors.
Schneider also gets in touch with seniors who have meals delivered to their homes. When someone needs more than a meal, Schneider said he pays a visit to assess their needs and matches them with volunteers.
Schneider, a seven-year long program veteran, said Northeast Queens Senior Services is rewarding for both the volunteers and for the seniors. According to Schneider, some pairs have been together for six months and some as long as five years.
“It’s tremendous for seniors because they know they’re just a call away from being able to spend time with someone, and volunteers get a great deal of satisfaction being able to help someone who has no one,” he said.
Constantly on the search for volunteers, Schneider said he visits any place from colleges and high schools to churches and synagogues. While he said the program has about 45 to 50 who donate their time, Schneider said the number is not enough.
To become a volunteer, contact Chris Schneider at 516-641-7541.