Retired counselor finds new ‘calling’ a perfect fit

Helping people and connecting them to beneficial resources was a large part of Chris Connelly’s life prior to retirement. Last year, he decided to become a FeedMore WNY volunteer, allowing him to use some of the same skills he honed during his career.

“I worked at ECMC in the addiction counseling field for more than 30 years,” he said. “The idea of continuing to help people was something that really appealed to me,” he said.

The Companion Call program was initiated in 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companion Call volunteers contact FeedMore WNY clients to check on their well-being, as well as chat about daily life, and possibly connect them to any assistance they may need.

Volunteers keep a log of important details within their conversations, such as food allergies, or diet and medical issues that may need follow-up. The logs are then sent to the Nutrition and Client Services teams, who respond to any concerns.

“It’s been great to be able to connect people to other resources,” he said. “These [clients] are really a joy to talk to and help. I also encourage them to get involved in their community or meet people who have the same interests, if they can.”

Connolly added that there are sometimes difficult and emotional conversations clients have with him, he always makes sure that they are aware they are not facing their issues alone.

“To be part of FeedMore WNY to see peoples’ smiling faces and know that I was part of helping them make it through tough times is really wonderful,” he said.

Connelly, a resident of the City of Buffalo, has been married to his wife, Margaret, for 35 years.