Happy to Chat benches encourage strangers to sit and stay a while

It may not be a cure to loneliness, but Salem has found a way to help residents connect through friendly conversation.The city is designating 10 be...

September 17, 2022
5:08 PM

It may not be a cure to loneliness, but Salem has found a way to help residents connect through friendly conversation.The city is designating 10 benches in local parks as 'Happy to Chat' benches, outfitting them with signs encouraging people to sit and converse with those next to them.The program, funded through a $1,000 grant from AARP Massachusetts, is part of Salem for All Ages, an initiative by the city to better meet the needs of its older residents.'One of the biggest problems older people have is the feeling of isolation and loneliness,' said Patricia Zaido, cochair of the Salem for All Ages task force, an issue she said only grew worse during the pandemic.

John Laidler