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Coronavirus Update: Opinion – Innovating how we stay connected

By Jane Marks

AARP West Virginia State President

AARP recognizes the on-going Covid-19 pandemic is a challenging time for all as we try to adjust, distance, cope with loss of employment, ill family members, and so much more. We know that our older adults are our most vulnerable. The recommendations we are to follow to help keep us safe, may be physically separating older loved ones from family, which creates another challenge, but we don’t have to feel alone.

Jane Marks

Across the country, people are informally organizing new online mutual aid groups to stay connected, share ideas, and help those most affected by the Coronavirus. A new online platform launched by AARP Innovation Labs helps communities stay connected at a time when we’re practicing social distancing to stay safe.

AARP Community Connections includes multiple resources to help those who are feeling isolated. You can get help, as well as give help by visiting Whether you want to start a group, find a group, or get assistance yourself, this innovative online resource can help you connect with people in your community. Local organizations can register their information and services.  Visitors to the website can search their geographic area to local find those local services and resources. 

AARP Community Connections is live and completely free to use, and AARP membership is not required.  For more information, visit or call (888) 281-0145.

The current situation may cause anxiety and feelings of loneliness.  That is totally normal, we all may be experiencing such feelings.  Sometimes a listening ear is all that is needed. Many of us have friends and family members with whom we can communicate, but some do not.  If you need to hear a friendly voice you may visit the website and schedule an AARP Friendly Voices phone call from one of our trained AARP volunteers.  You may even arrange for a regularly scheduled call, for example, each Wednesday at 3 p.m.

In addition, if you do not have access to a computer, you may call (888) 281-0145 to schedule a Friendly Voices call.  This line is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. This is not meant to be a crisis line, but is a way to hear a friendly voice to ease your sense of isolation and loneliness.  We do have bilingual capabilities and you may request a Spanish speaking volunteer.

AARP remains committed to helping the 50-plus population, and these are just a few ways that we are empowering older West Virginians and older Americans to engage and stay connected in this unprecedented time. We appreciate the hundreds of AARP volunteers who have stepped forward to help us do so.

Please stay safe and know you are not alone.


Jane Marks of Charleston is an AARP volunteer and currently serves as State President of AARP West Virginia, representing nearly 300,000 members across the Mountain State.

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