SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic can be isolating for a lot of people, especially older adults who are living alone. A program from the Sioux Empire United Way through Lutheran Social Services called Better Together is hoping to help.
LaVonne Dieken and Jenna Martin love getting together for coffee.
“LaVonne is definitely an addition to my life that I would never change. She is amazing,” Martin said.
Dieken, a former teacher from Hartford, lives at Sunnycrest in Sioux Falls. When she heard about Better Together, a program that matches adults over 65 with volunteers, she was all in. The 75-year-old was matched with Martin before the pandemic. On top of staying in touch, the two join up for trips around town.
“Mutually we click really well and I think she brings out the best in me. I’ve really enjoyed my time with Jenna and I hope a lot of people will sign up because it’s a wonderful program for us people that are by ourselves. I have no family, just one brother. I needed a family and I got a family,” Dieken said.
Better Together is operated by Lutheran Social Services. Director of Mentoring Michelle Madsen says it’s been around for five years and there are currently 40 matches.
“We all know what it is to be isolated now and it’s tough. We’re happy to be that part to get people together and get people more engaged in the community,” Madsen said.
Madsen says there’s plenty of room for more volunteers and participants who want to sign up for what could be a long lasting friendship.
“Not only did I find a friend, I found a gal that I would consider my daughter and I’m anxious to meet my granddaughter,” Dieken said.
If you’re interested in signing up for the program or you’d like to volunteer, click here.