Reassurance call-in program has annual party for those utilizing welfare checks

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019

For six years, Mary Shafenberg has had the same task on her to-do list every single morning: Call Albert Lea Fire Rescue. When she doesn’t, they go looking for her.

Shafenberg is part of the department’s reassurance call-in program. Program members are to call in every morning. If firefighters do not receive a phone call before 11 a.m., program lead Chris Harveaux said the fire department calls them. If there is no answer, firefighters will stop at their home for a welfare check.

“It just gives some of the participants and their families a little bit of peace of mind of, you know, they’re talking to somebody every day or there’s somebody checking on them in some way to have some sort of connection then,” he said.

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This is the case for Marcia Moyer, who has used the reassurance call-in program for about three years.

“It feels like an assurance for me,” she said.

This year, 33 people participated in the program, Harveaux said, though from year to year that number will vary between 20 and 40 people.

Those program members were invited to a party Thursday, where they were served cake and talked with firefighters and other program members.

For some, like Shafenberg, there are family members in the area. But for others, “they kind of use us as surrogate family,” Harveaux said.

Shafenberg especially recommends the program for people who live alone. She encourages them not to look at it as a reflection of age, but as a step toward safety.

“It makes me feel like it’s one thing that my family doesn’t have to worry about here,” she said.

Plus, there’s cake. Shafenberg attends the party every year, she said. It is a chance to meet the firefighters and other people who utilize the program.

“I wouldn’t miss it,” she said.


About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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