A phone call sounds like such a little thing, but for many older Napans it could be considered a life line.
Paul McSharry gets it.
This 34-year-old Napa transplant volunteers weekly for Molly’s Angels Telephone Reassurance Program. It’s funded by Area Agency on Aging.
Local seniors receive a free weekly call to check on their well-being or simply hear a friendly voice.
McSharry volunteers for about an hour a week, making 12 to 15 short phone calls from the Molly’s Angels office to local seniors who are homebound.
McSharry said he first heard of the program after seeing a notice at Starbucks asking for volunteers to make the calls.
“I had never heard of such a thing,” he said. “But it seems so obvious.”
He decided to call to volunteer “and I’m so glad I did. It’s such a fantastic idea.”
McSharry, owner of Maze Wines, said that even though he has a busy work schedule, “I can take an hour out of my week.”
After all, “a lot of times the elderly in our community can get forgotten. And loneliness is an awful thing. And isolating. If I can pick up the phone for five or 10 minutes, surely I can do that.”
At first, McSharry had seven or eight people on his list to call, all men. Several have since passed away.
“Now I’ve got a mix between older men and women. I talk to the same people each week,” usually 12 to 15 seniors, he said. “I’ve got a great group.”
Every phone call is different. “Some just appreciate someone checking in and saying hello. Others I could be talking to for 10 to 15 minutes.”
After sharing bits of their lives back and forth, “It becomes a friendship.”
McSharry said one thing about his volunteer work has surprised him.
“At first, you think you’re doing it for someone else but now I feel like I’m the one getting something out of it,” he said.
“So many people I’ve spoken to are great people,” and have stories about Napa and their life experiences to share.
McSharry, who was born in Ireland but lived in London for many years, said he’s always supported different charities.
“When I went to high school in London, it was compulsory for everyone to do three hours of community service a week.”
His father, who lives in Ireland, was also involved with charity work.
“He felt that he should give back — and my mum did the same — and that was instilled in us.”
McSharry said he hopes to expand his volunteer time with Molly’s Angels in the coming year. That could include giving rides to seniors or helping with social media to spreading the word about the nonprofit.
“And they always need new volunteers,” he said.