Public Safety

Delivering Friendship and Care to Homebound Seniors

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Santa’s Senior Volunteer Patrol bringing a basket of homemade presents, and more importantly, a visit from a caring friend or two.

John moved to the United States 28 years ago and now has just a niece living in the San Diego area, who he doesn’t get to see very often. But he knows he can count on regular calls from Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer Patrol members as part of the “You Are Not Alone” program, or YANA. Program participants asked to only be identified by their first names.

On this day, John greets volunteers Marie Allin and Dan Sutherland at his front door with a huge smile. They exchange holiday greetings, hugs and Allin presents John with a basket of hand-knit gifts which includes a throw, slippers, pot holders, as well as a book of stamps, a gift card to Walmart and a Christmas card. He thanks them and hands then a box of candy and a card.

This is John’s eighth year in the YANA program in which Senior Volunteers Patrol members call or visit to check up on homebound seniors throughout the year to make sure they are doing well. Some seniors no longer drive, have medical issues which prevent them from going out, or have little to no family in the area, says Allin.

“Yes, it’s very nice,” says John of being in the program. He gets called regularly by volunteers. “It’s good. It makes me very happy.”

Another stop is the home of Barbara and her little dog Polly. Barbara notes the throw may be especially useful when she heads outside on cold days during excursions in her motorized wheelchair.

“Thank you. I am sure there are other people more in need than me,” Barbara says.

“We take care of all our (YANA) people,” Allin replies with a smile.

Barbara heard about the program from a friend a few months ago and signed up. She’s appreciative to have the volunteers check in on her regularly by phone and in person.  

The Senior Volunteer Patrol creates holiday baskets for its seniors and every year, they do something a little different. This year, the mother of a former Senior Volunteer Patrol member made the throws and pot holders for all 11 recipients, and Sutherland’s wife, Ann, knit all the slippers for the men and women in the program. More deliveries will be made throughout the week.

Allin says she wishes there had been programs like this when her parents were older and living on their own. She didn’t live in the same town, and it would have given her some peace of mind to know someone was checking on them and cared about how they were doing.

“I think (YANA) is the most important thing the Sheriff does. It’s very special,” says Allin. “I think this program should be used by more law enforcement.”

Senior Volunteer Patrol members are trained to watch out for signs of neglect or abuse, illness or malnutrition, and depression. Allin says Senior Volunteer Patrol members have even come across people who have fallen and injured themselves or who passed away in their home and notified the proper authorities.

The service is free and anyone can refer a senior to the program or sign up using this form.  Allin says people who sign up for the program can choose to get phone calls or in person visits and can even choose the best time of day for contact.

Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact