NORTH PORT, Fla. — A painful pandemic lesson for so many of us was how to stay in touch with our elderly loved ones.
Now with volunteers' help, North Port Police Department says they're working to make a difference.
It's called the Hearts Program which stands for:
“It’s anyone elderly, 60 and over usually or anyone that is disabled that doesn't necessarily have anyone that checks on them. It gives them that sense of security that, I know that somebody is going to be calling me today, and if I can’t get to my call, I know they are going to be sending me help,” said Mandy Lorenz, the Coordinator for the Hearts Program.
Lorenz says volunteers like Bill Natale call 10 people at 8 am every day.
She says Bill is just one of the two volunteers working for the Hearts Program.
“The people are great. They really appreciate the call and they are good to talk with,” said Natale.
North Port PD says volunteers are trained to recognize warning signals for help and if they can’t get someone to answer the phone, police step in.
“They contact us and let us know, hey, I wasn’t able to reach this person and then we take it from there. We call their emergency contact and if we can’t get ahold of them and find out any further information then we send an officer right out,” said Lorenz.
In November, volunteers alongside police officers were able to meet face to face with their members at a holiday banquet.
Volunteers like bill Natale say it was an opportunity to finally meet the voice on the other side of the phone.
For officers, it was a chance to show their badge means more than just, serve and protect.
“A lot of what we do as a police department most police departments know is reactive. Whereas I believe this program is very proactive in making sure that our citizens that are maybe a little bit more vulnerable or need just a little bit more assistance than the normal citizen, we make sure that they receive that service,” said Lorenz.
Volunteers and members must all be North Port residents.
A link to sign up or for more information can be found by clicking here.