On most Saturday afternoons, Carolyn Bascomb is warming up on her treadmill in her Cambridge home, waiting excitedly for her weekly visit with Sarah Klein. The two met through FriendshipWorks’ Friendly Visiting program upon a recommendation from Carolyn’s health counselor after Carolyn expressed that she was feeling lonely. She had been facing some health challenges, and with most of her family living in Georgia and Florida, Carolyn didn’t have that support nearby. She agreed to apply, with a request to be matched with a FriendshipWorks volunteer who could help her stay more active and healthy. As luck would have it, Sarah, a health journalist and certified personal trainer, had applied as a volunteer – the perfect match!
When Sarah moved back to Boston to be closer to family in 2020 during the pandemic, she too found herself feeling isolated. Becoming a Friendly Visitor with FriendshipWorks, she says, gave her the opportunity to reconnect with others and get involved in the community. “From my family and upbringing, I was taught that we should all leave the world better than we found it,” Sarah explains. “I wanted to use my knowledge of health to improve the life experience of others in my community, especially those feeling isolated in different ways.”
Their friendship goes beyond just exercising. They enjoy coloring together, and share meaningful conversations about issues and events that are important to each of them, such as neighborhood crime, politics, and racial justice.
“I start rattling off anything that’s on my mind. I can say what I have to say, and she tells me the truth,” says Carolyn. “Even if we disagree, we don’t get upset. We find we have a lot in common!”
And the feeling is mutual. Sarah learns from Carolyn’s wisdom and life experiences. “She has gone through so many situations in her life that I haven’t lived yet,” Sarah shares. “Carolyn is truly a friend. From visit to visit, it feels like one big conversation.”
The FriendshipWorks Friendly Visiting program is able to create meaningful friendships that enrich the lives of both volunteers and recipients. With your help, hundreds more will reap the health benefits of strong social connections.
Photo Credits: John Deputy