|Creating joy-filled places where isolation takes a holiday
There's a debate going on about whether holiday shopping and commercialism encroaches on the real meaning behind the holidays. But dedicated supporters at Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly aren't involved in the discussion. They've been too busy making sure hundreds of elders who would otherwise be alone can celebrate the season with those who care about them.
The holidays are a time of year when loneliness is most deeply felt. But thanks to the support of hundreds of individual and family volunteers, community groups and corporate sponsors, isolated elders find joy and hope through social events and visits. Some of the holiday outreach efforts include:
Christmas teas: Three festive teas, sponsored by McGough Construction, Our Lady of Grace School and Farnam Street Financial, are being held in early December. These caring and generous groups lavish our elders with holiday treats, carols and gifts in brightly decorated surroundings.
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners: A time-honored tradition, our holiday meals bring together elders from throughout the greater Twin Cities metro area with hundreds of volunteers who serve as drivers, kitchen or dining room crew members, greeters and more. Volunteers deliver meals to more than 50 shut-ins each holiday, as well. This year's meals are graciously provided by Prom Catering.
Stuff-a-Shoebox and other gift contribution programs: Individuals, families and groups such as Home Instead and UCare donated hundreds of thoughtful gifts, to be distributed to our elders at December events and with our Friendship and Flowers deliveries.
Thank you to all who, through your generous donations of time and treasure, support our mission of providing hope and companionship during the holidays and throughout the year!
Give the gift of companionship
It's not too late to erase loneliness for an elder this holiday season and beyond by supporting the Not Alone! 2012 campaign. You can choose how your dollars are put into action:
- $50 provides 1 friendly home visit, gift and holiday meal
- $100 provides Friendship & Flowers visits to 10 homebound elders
- $250 provides a friendly home visit, gift and holiday meal for 5 elders
- $1,000 sponsors a memorable community gathering and meal for 25 elders
- $5,000 underwrites an intergenerational service learning program and materials for local classrooms
Consider donating to Not Alone! as a gift or tribute to a loved one.To contribute to Not Alone!, click here, call 612.746.0742 or print, complete and mail in this form and write NOT ALONE on the envelope.
From the Executive Director
Let's celebrate the role that elders play in our lives
Greg Voss, Executive Director
Because you clicked on this issue of Among Friends, I'm going to make a pretty safe assumption: You have an interest in the older adults of our community -- particularly those who may have no one to call them "Friend," or "Mom," or "Dear." And because of your heightened awareness, you've likely noticed an elder who seemed alone, perhaps at your place of worship, the community center or the mall. You may have reached out, said a kind word or offered them a lift home.
But not everyone shares your awareness of lonely elders. The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Start Seeing Motorcycles." I wonder -- do they make bumper stickers that say, "Start Seeing Elders"? Because more and more, older adults are becoming an invisible and often-forgotten segment of our society. And in our "busyness," even those of us who care deeply about elders can neglect to include them in our plans.
Friends of the Elderly is blessed with hundreds of volunteers and supporters. Many stay connected with us year after year because they believe they're making a difference in the lives of elders. And it goes both ways -- they learn from our elders, too. They hear about their life experiences -- lives that are often filled with the pain of loss, but toughened by their perseverance through adversity. I, myself, have gained strength and inspiration through conversations with our elders.
Throughout the holiday season, we offer a number of celebrations and gift-giving options for our elders. These opportunities are truly memorable and we invite you to be a part of them if you're not already. But however you celebrate the season, please encourage those around you to "Start Seeing Elders." Awareness is the first step to engaging and forming the relationships our isolated elders long for. By making them a part of our lives, we're all enriched in the process.
Toasting our past, embracing our future
On Thursday, Oct. 11, more than 200 guests joined together at the FIVE Event Center in Minneapolis for An Evening in Paris, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly.
The evening was launched with a special VIP social hour, reuniting more than 50 past and present board and staff members. Executive Director Greg Voss welcomed the guests and invited all to raise a champagne toast to the many years of shared dedication to the mission.
Former Executive Director Michael Henley shared memories of the early years.
The festivities then moved upstairs at the event center as we welcomed an additional 150 guests. Gourmet hors d'oeuvres were served, courtesy of Prom Catering. A silent auction, featuring 35 items such as wine and cheese baskets, The Who concert tickets, restaurant gift certificates and tickets to the theater, created buzz throughout the evening. Guests also sampled wines at the wine-tasting display and had the evening immortalized by Big Smiles photography and Caricatures by Lisa.
Pierre Asselin, President of the International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor, traveled from Toronto, Canada, to join in the occasion. He, as well as Former Executive Director Michael Henley, addressed the guests and reaffirmed that our mission reaches beyond the limitations of time and geography. As a poignant high point, volunteer videographer Steve Goranson premiered the touching promotional video, "Celebrate Life wih Us," that he created, which is now incorporated into our outreach presentations and volunteer orientations.
Plans for the event had been in the works since early spring. Special thanks to the creative and dedicated volunteers on our 40th Anniversary Action Team, Deena Igou (chairperson), Calleigh Brown and Maggie McCarrick, as well as to staff members Sandy O'Donnell and Chelsea Igou.
View our photo album of the event on Facebook!
Elder friend overcomes hurdles to exercise his voting rights
Garyproudly displays his "I Voted" sticker - a souvenir of his newly restored right to vote.
When our elder friend Gary picked up his mail one day last summer, he rejoiced as he pulled a small postcard from the stack. It listed his polling place -- a sign that a long, circuitous and frustrating journey had ended.
Gary moved to Minnesota from Illinois seven years ago. In order to obtain a Minnesota ID, he sent home for his birth certificate. Much to his surprise, the certificate listed his legal name -- a name that was different from the name he always used, and which was printed on his Illinois ID.
This led to a yearlong fiasco of document requests and bureaucratic red tape, complicated by Gary's failing eyesight. Friends of the Elderly staff stepped in to help navigate the systems. Eventually, a $320 legal name change helped solve the paper chase. As Gary told the Star Tribune in a Sept. 6 article, "I changed my name -- into my name."
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, accompanied by Program Coordinator Josh Windham, Gary went to cast his vote for the first time as a Minnesota resident. "He was so happy, he shouted when he got in line, 'John Q. Citizen reporting to vote!'" laughed Josh. "Everybody turned and stared, but it was fun!"
Volunteer leaders to add muscle to program strength
Volunteers from Thrivent Financial display the cake for the birthday/bingo party they sponsored in October.
Have you checked out the skyline of the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs lately? Huge, steel cranes are everywhere, erecting more and more senior high rises. By this time next year, these buildings will be made up of thousands of tiny apartments housing elders who will remain inside, isolated and shut off from the rest of the world.
It's estimated that there are 77,000 lonely older adults in the Twin Cities, and that number will multiply as the baby boom generation ages.* Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly is facing this challenge head on by building a volunteer leadership model that will allow us to reach more isolated elders in the community.
The volunteer leadership model incorporates two key elements:
Strong community partnerships. Over the past year, we have expanded opportunities for businesses and community groups to plan and sponsor social activities. Partners such as Univita Health, McGough Construction, UCare, Blake School, Hope Lutheran and Wells Fargo -- to name just a few -- have enabled us to provide more parties, bingo games and special events, and have greatly increased the number of elders served by our Friendship and Flowers program.
Individual leadership roles. In January, we are launching two new volunteer roles that offer greater leadership potential with increased responsibilities. The new positions are:
- Administrative Team Member. These valuable volunteers will help coordinate social activities and events for our elders, arrange transportation, manage data, place elder check-in calls and more. With the addition of Administrative Team Members, the Program staff will be able to reach out to dozens more elders who seek companionship and social connectedness.
- Event Team Member. These volunteers will help plan and execute social activities, socialize with elders, follow up with event sponsors and maintain records. Event Team Members will enable us to develop programs that reach more lonely elders in each of our three tiers of care needs, including events for lonely, more active elders in order to prevent the risks associated with ongoing isolation.
If you are interested in joining our fun and dedicated Program team as a Corporate Sponsor, or Administrative or Event Team Member, please contact Debra Strege, Program and Volunteer Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.746.0732.
*Sources: AARP, Sept. 2010, and Minnesota Compass.
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Christmas dinner driver/companion for an elder?
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Support LBFE's mission of providing companionship to isolated seniors in the Twin Cities
OLG STUDENTS CREATE ARTFUL VASES FOR ELDERS
On Saturday, Nov. 10, more than 90 grade- and middle-school students gathered with their parents at Our Lady of Grace School (OLG) to bring sunshine to shut-in elders throughout the Twin Cities.
The students decorated 250 bud vases in a rainbow of decoupage colors, and colored gift bags with individual messages and Thanksgiving-themed artwork. The parents graciously funded the purchase of the flowers that accompanied the vases and gift bags for the Nov. 17th Friendship and Flowers
deliveries to elders.
As a follow-up, the students and parents hosted a Christmas tea for our elders on Saturday, Dec. 8, at OLG. Many thanks to OLG parents Karen Doll and Lorri Borgelt who organized and facilitated the events and projects.
RECENT GRANTS AWARDED TO SUPPORT OUR MISSION
In the spirit of the season, we express our heartfelt thanks to the following corporations and foundations that have
recently awarded grants to our Chapter:
Allina Health System
Healthy Moves for Aging Well Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation
general operating expenses
Clear Channel Management Services, Inc./Cities 97
food-related expenses, Friendship and Flowers
Kopp Family Foundation general operating expenses
North Suburban Community Foundation
general operating expenses/Roseville focus
Onan Family Foundation general operating expenses
Carl and Eloise Pohlad Family Foundation
Stevens Square Foundation intergenerational programs
general operating expenses
James R. Thorpe Foundation general operating expenses
The Voelbel Family Fund of the National Christian Foundation general operating expenses
H.E. and Helen R. Warren Foundation
general operating expenses
The Wasie Foundation evaluation analysis and enhancement
Wells Fargo CMES Charitable Giving Council
evaluation analysis and enhancement
The following people we served were remembered at our October memorial service:
Our next memorial service is Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 from 4-5 p.m. at 1845 East Lake Street in Minneapolis.
We encourage anyone whose life has been touched by an elder we served to attend our memorial service. Please contact Josh Windham at 612.746.0746 or email@example.com if you would like to attend. Open to all.