Holly Ryckman is one of 17 city employees taking the time to call seniors at home every couple of weeks. A library support supervisor at Davis Library, Ryckman said librarians are drawn to this type of work.
“We have a strong sense of serving the public,” she said. “We have really enjoyed to be able to continue that, even while working from home.”
The program started back in April as stay-at-home orders were put in place. Davis Library Manager Brent Bleochle said the initiative began as a way to help seniors feel cared for by their community.
The program currently has 17 staff members in three city departments. “We've definitely met a need in the community for these individuals,” Bleochle said.
Ryckman said the seniors she calls are excited to be on the receiving end. Often, the residents have stories on hand to share with Ryckman.
“Whether it's the weather or gardening, what they're reading now, what grocery shopping is like for them, what challenges they might be facing,” Ryckman said.
Ryckman has even shared conversations with a former employee of the city of Plano.
“It's been really interesting to talk to her about what it was like when she started with the city of Plano and how it was smaller and less developed,” she said.
Checking the call logs, Bleochle noticed a pattern as the program grew. “The calls initially started at being 10 or 15 minutes,” he said. “We have some that are stretching to 25 and 30 minutes.”
According to Bleochle, the program is set to continue even as businesses begin to open up. There is no set date for the program to end.
Ryckman’s drive for service shows up in her enthusiasm for making the calls. While the program gives seniors a social outlet, it also gives Ryckman and other staff a chance to connect with residents again.
“It's something we all value – to able to serve our community in a different way than we did prior to COVID-19,” she said.
To find out more about the program, visit plano.gov.