NAMI Mich. distributing Echo Shows to senior citizens for the holidays

A Michigan nonprofit is launching an initiative to make it easier for seniors to connect with their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Michigan Chapter bought and is handing out hundreds of Amazon Echo Show devices to senior citizens this holiday season. 

“My mother is absolutely the reason I came up with this idea," Kevin Fischer, the Executive Director of NAMI said. He said he couldn't stop thinking about his 89-year-old mother, who's missing out on family time. 

“That’s the worst part of it, not being able to see them," said Florene Fischer. 

So Kevin decided to get his mother a couple of Amazon Echo Shows. The set up takes just a few minutes, and then his mother got to see her grandson — who she hasn’t seen in person since March — take his first steps.

And that gave Kevin the idea. 

“There are tens of thousands of other seniors who are going to be isolated from their families due to COVID restrictions, the holiday, and I want to be able to share this with them," he said.

Several organizations supported Fischer’s idea and he got $30,000 donated. He also called Best Buy and Kohl’s to ask for discounted Echo Shows.

“They were so impressed with what we were doing they each quickly called me back and said, 'Kevin, we're going to find a way to help you,'" he said.

Fischer is now able to distribute roughly 600 Echo Shows, calling it Operation Holiday Outreach for elderly Michiganders.

“There are so many more advantages to the Echo. For example, Echo devices will play music for you. You can ask it to read books to you, the Bible," Kevin said. 

Fischer says the Echo also helps his mother remember doctors' appointments and when to take her medication. And if something happens Alexa can even call her an ambulance if needed. 

If you're with a nursing home or a senior center and would like to get some of these Echos distributed, you can reach out to NAMI at (517) 485-4049.