“Hello! How may I help you?” – words, that we generally hear when calling a helpline, which usually mean offering help through the telephone. Not the case for the volunteers of the Telephone Charity Service. In the last ten years they have offered personal/physical help to those in need, by being there for the elderly needing a hand with shopping for food, but they’ve also been there in medical crises, or when the demands just simply needed to be connected with the offers.
The Telephone Charity Service is a local volunteer initiative, founded in Kolozsvár/ Cluj Napoca that connects people with a need, to volunteers that want to provide the solution to their need – an idea that was born from the specific Transylvanian claims. The community of the volunteer helpers now consisting of 34 people have experienced it from time to time, especially in the case of the elderly, that timely help is twice the help, as the saying goes.
When answering the phone they carefully listen to the caller’s life story and they not only ask about the kind of help one needs, but also about the kind of help the person can offer. They always try to go to the given address the very same day. In most cases the mere presence of a helping person is more important than any material help.
In the last ten years they have registered the data of almost 2,000 new callers and they have received more than 6,700 phone calls.
The numbers 0264 56 56 56 on Fridays in Kolozsvár and the nr. 0265 55 55 55 on Thursdays in Marosvásárhely may be called once a week during 5 hours (between 15-20 hours). In 80% of the cases the callers ask for help, but 20% of callers offer something for those in need. Volunteers try to connect the needs with the offers. The greatest need is for food, information, medicine, medical care and for jobs. “We are a crisis help line, the prompt assistance, that can be the spare wheel for some, until they get to the service” says Sajó Norbert, founder of the Telephone Charity Service.
At the Advent Love Feast (2nd week in December, every year): the volunteers offer a free meal for about 500 people in total in Kolozsvár and Marosvásárhely every year.
The Service also organizes summer camps for children who do not have the opportunity or cannot afford to have a vacation in the summer.
Time-capsule is a new project: lonely elderly people have their stories, memories recorded for posterity. Volunteers put these stories in a time-capsule with the help of a photographer and a journalist. The most interesting stories may be published in a daily newspaper or in a photo album. Every old storyteller will receive an album of her/his own. The old persons whom the volunteers visit for recording the stories receive food and vitamins from the Telephone Charity Service.
In 2018 the Telephone Charity Service created a Shelter-room for those people in a crisis situation who need medical care, checkup or surgery. Those who require the Shelter-room, can spend 3 nights there free of charge, with access to a fully equipped kitchen and a shower. The Shelter-room, thataccommodates 4 people at a time is located in the center of Marosvásárhely, at the headquarters of the Service. Those in need can request assistance for the room by calling the telephone number: 0720 565 656. Future plans of the Service include the opening of another Shelter-room in Kolozsvár.
Photos: Telephone Charity Service