SAN MARCOS, Calif. — For senior citizens living in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, hearing the words "you are not alone" can make a world of difference. In this Zevely Zone, I rode along with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department for a special surprise.
"Good morning, Minnie," said Senior Volunteer Patrolman Mike Gardiner.
94-year-old Minnie Gomez needed a visit. She was waiting on her front driveway. Minnie knows all about living in isolation. Her husband of seven decades, Leo Gomez, died four years ago.
"I miss him a lot. I had a bad month last month," said Minnie.
That's why the San Diego County Sheriff Department's "You Are Not Alone" program is here to comfort her from six feet away. The patrol usually doesn't sing to the seniors, but times recently have been anything but the usual, so they figured - why not bring a guitar?
Deputy Roland Garza, known as the "Singing Deputy," launched into a set of feel-good songs which included the Beatles classics "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "Let it Be."
Before Garza started playing, Minnie was talking about a bad hip. By the end of the song, she was dancing and feeling light as a feather, just like so many other seniors this program touches.
"Do you worry about seniors?" I asked.
Gardiner, who coordinates the compassionate program told me, "Yes. Very definitely we do. It's a free service. Generally, we get referrals from family members who want us to look in on their family."
Next stop? The home of 93-year-old Virginia DeBoer. Her husband, Harland, died four years ago and this is how she welcomes all visitors.
"Excited! Every day is a day. You are just given one day at a time and happiness doesn't occur. You make it," said Virginia.
Back at Minnie's home, Garza played an encore performance for the late Leo Gomez.
"He was the happiest person," said Minnie.
Leo served in World War II and something told me the paratrooper would appreciate these good people dropping in on his wife.
"It gives me a sense of helping out the community that I live in," said Gardiner.
Minnie added, "I really love them."
You can learn more about the San Diego County Sheriff Department's "You Are Not Alone" program here.