Every Monday morning, starting promptly at 9 a.m., Marlene Ramey settles into her favorite easy chair with her phone and makes a few phone calls.
Although the calls often turn into chats about Twins games or farming in the 1950s, they’re not just friendly chats.
The calls, often made at family members’ request, are intended to make sure area seniors are safe and sound.
Ramey is the official Monday-morning caller for the “Good Morning Telephone Reassurance Program” operated by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Redwood County.
Five other RSVP volunteers call the other days of the week, except for Sundays.
“The Good Morning Telephone Reassurance Program is offered to check on people who live alone,” stated Ramey.
“Clients receive a good morning call from a volunteer caller to make sure they are up and about and will be given assistance in getting help if needed.
“The volunteers call older adults who are at risk of sudden illness, falls, and social isolation.
“It provides reassurance for the older adults as well as their families. Each client has one or more friends or family member's telephone listed who can be contacted in case of an emergency
“If we are unable to reach a client, we call that number to see if they have any information on where they might be.
“Many times, the client has just forgotten to tell us that they will be gone but we want to be sure that they are safe.”
Ramey currently lives on the Gilfillan estate with her husband Norm. It is a return for them — they originally moved to Gilfillan as newlyweds in 1955, when Norm was hired to manage the Gilfillan farms.
Ramey first heard about the Good Morning Telephone Reassurance Program through her work at the United Methodist Church in Redwood Falls.
“I have been involved in the program for about three years,” Ramey said. “You develop a close bond of friendship with these people.
“I enjoy people and I enjoy talking on the phone. I try to remember them on their birthdays with a special phone call - sometimes I sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to them over the phone.
“Calling these people on a Monday morning really starts my week on a sunny note!”
Ramey has discovered she looks forward to the calls as much as her recipients do.
“(One of my calls was to) a man who lived alone and had some health issues. I found out that he and my husband both attended country school in Redwood County and knew the same teachers,” Ramey said.
Page 2 of 2 - “He loved to talk about life on the farm, blizzards, and problems with livestock in the snow. I always called him last so that we would have plenty of time to talk and visit.”
Another of Ramey’s favorite calls was to a lady in her 90s.
“(She was) a former farm wife, and loved to reminisce about life on the farm when she was younger and how it has changed,” Ramey said.
“Another lady didn't like leaving her home in the winter because of the icy conditions - our telephone visits were very welcome to her.”
“One lady was an avid Twins fan - we would talk about statistics and re-hash the game from the night before,” Ramey laughed.
Ramey is a strong believer in the Good Morning Telephone Reassurance Program, and says they’re always open to more people getting involved — at both ends of the telephone line.
“This program is active in Redwood Falls, Belview, and Wabasso. Morgan and Lamberton have been active but are on hold now until there are requests for calls,” said Ramey.
Telephone callers go through a training session with Karen Christensen before they begin. There is no charge for this program although donations are welcome.
For more about either being added to the call list, or becoming a volunteer, contact Karen Christensen at 507-627-1016.