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’Check In Chippewa County’ dials up care for community

Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 5:31 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 7:13 AM CST
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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - The stress of the ongoing pandemic, now combined with the winter blues, can be a lot to handle. That’s why people in Chippewa County are calling to “check in” with their neighbors.

A new volunteer calling service started in Chippewa County early in the pandemic. Now months later, “Check In Chippewa County” is still dialing up care for the community.

“A lot of us have changed our daily lives where we do virtual school or work, so we don’t get out,” said Cheryl Scheidler, a member of the COVID-19 Task Force in Chippewa County. That’s where “Check In Chippewa County” comes in, it’s just a phone call between strangers. “Just kind of fun to get to know someone else,” said Colleen Audorff, a participant in the program. Colleen has been receiving phone calls since October when her aunt that she was taking care of died from COVID. “I was not expecting to lose my aunt to COVID so it’s just hard,” Audorff said.

Through the program, she started getting weekly phone calls from a volunteer in Chippewa County. “It’s been nice, the lady I talk to has been really nice, we just talk about other things and she just asks me how it’s going,” Audorff added.

They can talk for as long as they want and as often as they need. “We’re just fortunate to have those people that are there and willing to step up and talk to a stranger and listen to a stranger,” Scheidler said.

There are currently 25 volunteers ready to talk to anyone who is feeling a little lonely or just needs to hear a friendly voice. “It’s nice to get to know somebody, for me it is somebody from a different generation and getting to know somebody that has different lived experience from me,” said volunteer, Kristin Karnes-Frederickson.

They are talking to get through tough times together. “It’s really our responsibility as a member of the community to take care of everybody,” Karnes-Frederickson added. It’s as simple as striking up a conversation and creating a bond that can’t be broken. “I kind of enjoy the calls so I don’t know if I want to give it up, right now,” Audorff said.

The county plans to continue this program and hope the matches continue to contact each other for as long as they are in need.

If you would like to receive a call or volunteer contact Pauline at 715-726-7816 or pspiegel@co.chippwea.wi.us

This is not a mental health crisis line, if you or someone you know is in crisis, call Northwest Connection’s 24/7 crisis line at 888-552-6642.

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