In the last year, the pandemic proved to be a time for reflection and time spent alone. While some resorted to living with their families again during quarantine and stay-at-home mandates, for others without family, living alone was involuntary. Through such a time of uncertainty, social media feeds, tv shows and pop culture saw the world gravitate toward positive and uplifting content and stories, despite how bleak the impact of the virus could be. Eager to spread positivity and promote solidarity, one 21-year-old from Panama found himself stranded in Miami for the duration of the pandemic. Though his family was only a 450-mile plane ride away, Baruj Avram was forced to stay stateside, waiting for the virus to subside and travel bans to lift. With an abundance of time on his hands, talking to his family daily on the phone, Avram fathomed what it must be like for those without any family during this time.
“I’m from Panama and Panama was completely locked down,” he says. “I was forced to quarantine by myself for eight months and after a few months went by, I spent my birthday alone and I just felt so lonely. I wanted to connect with people who were going through the same thing. Then I discovered elder orphans and knew I had to help.”
After doing some research on Americans without family, Avram discovered a huge demographic that he had never even heard of before: elder orphans. The 21-year-old found out that nearly 35% of elders in nursing homes have no family and receive no visitors from the time they enter the home to the time they die. Filled with empathy and distress after learning about this forgotten demographic of people, Avram set out to change that troubling statistic. Six months later, with the help of partners Steven Manocherian, Natalie Manocherian and Daniel Manocherian, he launched a non-profit organization called Calls4Care. Designed as a platform that connects people with elder orphans that have no friends or family outside of their nursing homes, Calls4Care has since been able to connect more than 2000 volunteers with elder orphans. These connections have thus fostered community and life-long relationships that will long outlast the effects of the pandemic.
By way of a simple interview process, Calls4Care will pinpoint a volunteer’s interests, skills and life experience in order to pair them with the best elder orphan candidates. Though the pandemic was undoubtedly a difficult time for most of the world, thanks to the ingenuity and thoughtfulness of people like Baruj Avram, amazing platforms and concepts like Calls4Care have been developed. To learn more about Calls4Care, visit their website.