KFOR: Oklahoma City nonprofit makes isolating at home more enjoyable with new program for older adults

By Hunter McEachern | April 22, 2021 | See full article here

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma City nonprofit, VillagesOKC, is making isolating at home more enjoyable for residents in independent living and long term care thanks to their new program, Porch Pals.

The nonprofit is made up of elder adults who act as neighbors, helping each other when needed and even enjoying relationships with one another. Each member acts as both a volunteer and someone who can seek out assistance from others within the organization.

With Porch Pals, the elder adults deliver thoughtful gifts to other members right to their door.

“It’s just amazing what’s possible if we connect and help each other just a little bit,” said Marilyn Olson, executive director at VillagesOKC.

Gaylene Stiles was new to VillagesOKC when she presented an idea. After hearing many members talk about how lonely they were feeling through the pandemic, Stiles said she felt called to help.

“I finally raised my hand and said, ‘what about if we take them a little gift? Drop it by and just kind of boost their spirits,’” said Stiles.

From that moment, Porch Pals was born.

The concept of bringing a small gift, whether it be a plant, chocolates for Valentine’s Day or other goodies straight to the member’s door- safely.

“That’s how it began,” said Stiles. “We had a list of our members that had been calling in and some of them that we knew were really isolated, feeling loss of community.”

After a successful pilot launch, VillagesOKC sought out making Porch Pals long term. The nonprofit ended up receiving a grant from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation to do so.

Now, they have just over 10 routes, each making a few stops to members… A win-win for both the giver and the receiver.

“It’s nice to get something from a friend during this time of being inside all the time,” said Wendall Snow, a Porch Pals gift recipient.

Some of those receiving are now considering delivering in the future.

“It is nice to be remembered by people you know,” said Gayle Cameron, a Porch Pals recipient.

Thanks to the grant, VillagesOKC is able to continue their monthly visits through 2021.

To learn more about VillagesOKC, visit their website.