Borgata is proud to support CONTACT Cape-Atlantic during our 12 Days of Giving. CONTACT Cape-Atlantic originally started in 1973 as a crisis line, but by 2005, they organization knew they were more valuable to the community as a telephone reassurance service. Their mission was changed to focus on serving the elderly and disabled with a daily telephone call. The telephone Reassurance Program dates back to 1987. We talked with Mary Jo Bernardo, CONTACT’s Executive Director, about the impact of the organization in the South Jersey community.
Give us a broad overview of what your organization does and how it helps the public?
CONTACT Cape-Atlantic provides telephone reassurance and community support for older adults, people with disabilities and those who are lonely, living alone, or feeling isolated from their community. The Telephone Reassurance Program provides daily telephone calls to older adults and people with disabilities living alone in Atlantic and Cape May counties. We offer a friendly hello and check-in to make sure all is well with our client. The program goal is to help the individual continue their independent living. 9 out of 10 people want to age at home. By offering this service free of charge, CONTACT addresses the harmful impact of loneliness on health outcomes by providing warm and caring connections. We help more than 200 people every day. That’s over 70,000 calls per year!
How has the current Covid health crisis impacted those that rely on your organization for support?
Several of our clients have contracted the virus. Day programs have temporarily closed; therefore, those who attended during the day are without in-person activities. Additionally, family visits have diminished and more people are experiencing isolation and loneliness. Loneliness and isolation are leading causes of both mental and physical decline for older adults and people with disabilities.
How will Borgata’s current contribution of 260 holiday cards for CONTACT participants, as well as four new cordless phones and one new laptop for CONTACT’s office help you serve your constituents?
Our clients live alone and many are isolated and lonely. Receiving a holiday card from the Borgata will warm their hearts, reminding them someone cares. Our program is built on phone communication and silly as it might seem, our office phones are old and tired. We receive complaints that callers can’t hear us and sometimes we can’t hear them. The buttons stick and sometimes it’s a challenge to push the answer button. The new phones donated by will definitely help our clients talk with us! Also, the new laptop from Borgata will improve our productivity and the safety and security of our information. We have a small two person paid staff and the rest are volunteers. Every effort is made to improve operational efficiency, including necessary upgrades to our use of technology.
For those who are reading about your organization and want to help, what can they do or donate? What would be the most useful?
Donations are so appreciated. No amount is too small to help us help others. Please visit us at http://www.contactcapeatlantic.org/.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Enjoying the Italian Christmas Eve menu with family: there’s many kinds of fish, Grandma Bernardo’s jardinière, and other recipes, with Italian struffoli for dessert.