URBANA, Ill. (WAND) -  Carle Foundation Hospital is helping connect patients with the community through the 'Carle Friends' program.

Carle Friends is meant to connect patients in COVID-19 isolation with volunteers out in the community wanting to make someone's day. Patients being isolated due to COVID-19 can have serious effects on their mental health. Dr. Amanda Keating, a clinical psychologist, said humans are meant to be connecting with people. 

"We are social creatures, you know, generally speaking, we are meant to be in connection with one another, and everyone has a different life circumstance as well, so if someone is isolated if they're on their own they're by themselves and they have other underlying characteristics, that makes that tougher for them." Dr. Keating said.

Carle Friends is closing the gap for those in isolation to be able to speak to other people at any time. Carle Friends reach out to anyone who needs it by phone call or video visit. They can talk about hobbies and interests, compare sports knowledge, or share thoughts on a great book or newspaper article. Carle Friends is meant to be a friend to a those in need. 

"These trained, screened Carle volunteers offer residents in the Carle service region a warm voice and trustworthy ear," Carle Health said. "There’s no better way to stay connected than by sharing time with a Carle Friend. Remember, you don’t have to face this time alone. Carle Friends are here for you. "

To apply to be a volunteer or to request a Carle Friend, click here.

More information on Carle Friends is below. 

How does someone receive a Carle Friend?

  • You can be from anywhere in Carle’s service regions, which includes the Bloomington-Normal area, Danville, and Mattoon-Charleston as well as Champaign-Urbana.
  • The recipient must feel the interaction will help their overall well-being and each person gives documented consent to be contacted by a volunteer.
  • Volunteers are matched with recipients with similar interests whether it is hobbies, music, literature, travel experiences or allowing the recipient to share reminiscing stories
  • Interaction is completely virtual via telephone or Zoom conferencing.
  • Each interaction is 30 minutes to an hour and most contact is made once a week by a volunteer who knows how to use technology.


What can you tell us about being a volunteer?

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Carle Friends must complete an application and interview process
  • They are vetted, and trained on how to reach out to community members through friendly conversation, active listening, cultural sensitivity and diversity, how to direct medical concerns and recognizing signs of abuse or signs that a person could harm himself or herself.
  • Volunteers serve from home and interaction is limited to the scheduled contact and does not extend beyond the Carle Friends program.
  • Complete an application and interview process
  • Receive a comprehensive background check
  • Minimum commitment is one semester for student volunteers and six months for adult volunteers

To become a recipient of a Carle Friend or to volunteer, reach out at 217-383-4653, email Carle.Friends@carle.com,  or click here.

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