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Could you be isolated and alone some day?

Preventing elder isolation 

Sometimes our days can get so harried, we long for just a few minutes of solitude. At what point, though, does an occasional break from the world turn into a pattern of isolation - a condition that may eventually find you alone, lonely and possibly at risk?

pie chart elder ages 2012

Ages of elders served by LBFE

in 2012

The seeds of isolation are often planted in middle age. That's the point when we are faced with changes in family, especially as children leave the nest. For decades, your status as a parent may have controlled your social life with PTA meetings, sporting events and ballet competitions. Many of these social commitments may seem exhausting and when children move out, there's often a sigh of relief. Finally, you have your evenings or weekends to yourself!
But more often than not, those social relationships are not replaced. Spending time alone may soon become a habit and a preference - it's just a lot easier than making the effort to establish new connections. Couple that with the possible loss of a spouse through divorce or death, and your own parents moving into assisted living or passing away. Thus begins a pattern characterized by single-serving dinners eaten alone by the light of the TV.

Sociologists believe that it's important to maintain social connections or form new ones, especially at times of transition. Robert Putnam, in his bestselling book, "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," discusses how critical building and maintaining "social capital" throughout our lives is for the well-being of individuals and our society. It enhances our children's education and welfare, ensures greater safety of our neighborhoods, promotes economic prosperity, improves political discourse, and even benefits our own health.

Social isolation also brings a greater risk of depression, heart disease, anxiety and other chronic conditions. The first step to preventing isolation as an elder is to nurture social connectedness in your middle years. Seeking new social groups, signing up for community education classes and volunteering for your favorite cause will help prevent the negative outcomes that often come with isolation - outcomes that may be irreversible later in life.
This is why LBFE is focusing on reaching out to our "Tier 1" elders - those who are still mobile and often engaged with community, yet feel lonely. In the past year, we've provided programs that appeal to the Baby Boomer generation, which often include more technology, such as a Kindle book club, and healthful activities, such as yoga. 
We encourage you to stay connected to your community as an LBFE volunteer! Please check out our Upcoming Events Calendar for ways to be involved.

From the Executive Director

Worldwide presence and impact

Greg Voss_email

Greg Voss,

Executive Director


What a remarkable experience it has been to learn of LBFE's reach and effectiveness!

When I came on board two years ago, I was aware that LBFE maintains chapters in seven cities in the U.S., and that our parent organization, Little Brothers of the Poor, is established in eight other countries. Little did I know of the amazing impact we had in these communities. From San Francisco to Madrid, LBFE is enhancing the lives of elders every day of every year. We are very proud of the work we do, of the volunteers we engage and of the stakeholders who give unselfishly of their resources in these communities around the world.

In the U.S., the Operations Council, comprised of executive directors from each chapter, meets throughout the year to learn from each other's successes. These meetings give us the opportunity to see, first hand, the types of elder programs being offered by the hosting chapters. In addition, twice a year, LBFE's Policy Council meets to discuss issues of national relevance. Future initiatives for both councils include best practices related to program development, national fund raising, board development and methods of promoting our programs on a national scale.

Although the communities we serve around the world vary in population, ethnicity and culture (and we serve both urban and rural areas), one message rings true: We are far more alike than different. Regardless of our location, from Minneapolis to Cincinnati, from Dublin to Warsaw, the mission established by Armand Marquiset in Paris in 1946 is alive and well. It is evident at our birthday parties and holiday meals, through Visiting Volunteer programs or monthly Friendship and Flowers visits. It is evident through the day to day efforts of staff and volunteers and the generosity of our donors. But it is most evident through the joy of our elders. We know; we see it in their smiles every day.

Greg Voss
Executive Director

You're invited!

2013 Annual Meeting and Ambassador Awards Ceremony is June 20


Ambassador awards rose
To RSVP, contact Danielle at or 612.746.0726.
When: Thursday, June 20, 2013

Annual Meeting: 4:30-5 p.m.

Ambassador Awards: 5-5:45 p.m.

Reception: 5:45-6 p.m.


Where: LBFE Community Room, 1845 East Lake St., Minneapolis


All members of the community are invited to the 2013 Annual Board of Directors Meeting on Thursday, June 20. This agenda for this short, 45-minute meeting include a review and acceptance of various policies and procedures, as well as the approval of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. It will also be an opportunity for community members to meet our dedicated, all-volunteer Board of Directors.

Following the Board Meeting, the Staff and Board of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly will honor nine "ambassadors" at the Second Annual Ambassador Awards. The Ambassador Awards are presented to those partners who have introduced our mission into new arenas or paved the way for LBFE to gain greater reach and effectiveness. Refreshments will be served after the award presentations.


Congratulations to our 2013 Ambassador Award recipients!

Steve Goranson
Just Desserts
Prime Timers MSP
Laura Schommer
Jethra Specter
Steven Square
Target Corporation
Univita Health
Wells Fargo International Group

Prime Timers MSP addresses the risks of isolated gay/bisexual elders


Prime Timers MSP's

Harry Hartigan

When the local chapter of Prime Timers contacted LBFE to share resources last year, it was the beginning of an important alliance.


Prime Timers Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) is a non-profit organization that provides social, recreational and educational opportunities to gay and bisexual men over 50. But, according to past-president Harry Hartigan, Prime Timers was faced with a growing need to help many of its 200 members who were alone, isolated and at risk.

"Prime Timers was designed to be a social group and wasn't meant to provide social services," Harry said. "We didn't know how to connect our isolated elders who were in difficult situations. When I heard of Little Brothers from a friend I realized that's just what we needed." They referred an elder Prime Timers member, and Harry credits LBFE for helping him move into a senior building where he can receive greater care and support.


To celebrate our partnership, Prime Timers is hosting a pre-Pride outdoor cookout at LBFE on Thursday, June 13, 12-2 p.m. If interested in attending, please RSVP to Harry Hartigan at



To date, about a dozen Prime Timers have received basic training as LBFE volunteers and now are Visiting Volunteers, Friendship and Flowers Visitors and Event Assistants. LBFE and Prime Timers also received an LGBT Aging Initiative grant through PFund. The grant will fund joint efforts over the next year to bring greater awareness of the risks of elder isolation within the LGBTQ community.*

"We're proud to partner with Prime Timers MSP because working together we'll have a greater impact on reducing elder isolation," said LBFE Executive Director Greg Voss. "The alliance will also allow LBFE to learn more about the risks and needs of LGBTQ elders, and our participant and volunteer base will better reflect the great diversity of the Twin Cities community."

In addition, LBFE and Prime Timers will have booths side-by-side at the 2013 Twin Cities Pride Festival June 29 and 30. "TC Pride has agreed to designate a large area that will be 'Boomer Town' and senior-friendly. AARP Minnesota's kiosks will be nearby, too, which will bring more traffic to our booths" Harry said.

Harry has faith that Prime Timers is making a difference in elders' lives. "We are talented, active, OUT and proud," said Harry. "We are wise and have a wealth of knowledge and skills. I have seen the power we bring to life each and every day. My hope is that LGBTQ elders - and all elders - receive the respect that they are due."

*According to publications such as "Twin Cities LGBT Aging Needs Assessment Survey (2012)," members of the LGBT community are at greater risk as they age than the general population because they are more likely to live alone and have fewer children to look after them as they age, and are less likely to have a caregiver.



Cards, Crafts and Coffee group blends fun and friendship


On the third Thursday morning of every month, the LBFE community room fills with a fun-loving group of elders ready for a challenge. Out come the decks of cards, Scrabble tiles and crochet needles while coffee and treats are served up.

To 25 dedicated elders, the Cards, Crafts and Coffee (CCC) group is the highlight of their month. While they enjoy the activity, the real draw is the chance to gather with those who have become good friends.

"It's difficult for many of our elders to get out on their own, so we find a way to get them here," said Program Coordinator Chelsea Igou. Gracious volunteer drivers pick up the more mobile elders and provide companionship for the morning. Others who are wheelchair-bound arrive via a Metro Mobility bus.

Some of the CCC participants have been coming like clockwork for several years. "For most of these elders, this is their community," Chelsea said. "They really have no one else to share their company. The CCC group helps these elders know they're special - and fun to be with!"

If you would like to sponsor or volunteer for a CCC group, please contact Chelsea at 612.746.0727 or


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Preventing elder isolation
From the Executive Director
Annual Meeting and Ambassador Awards
Prime Timers MSP partnershp
CCC group blends fun and friendship
Activities calendar
Food shelf, gift donations needed
Easter joy comes to elders
Estate gifts offer financial benefits
Recent grants awarded
In memory



Become a vibrant part of Friends of the Elderly!



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Support LBFE's mission of providing companionship to isolated seniors in the Twin Cities



LBFE maintains a small food shelf that is licensed by the City of Minneapolis. It is maintained solely to supplement the nutritional needs of elders in our programs. The shelf is quite bare so we're seeking your support. We are in need of small or single-serving containers of the following:

Canned soup
Canned fruit / vegetables
Packaged cookies
Baked beans
Packaged rice
Macaroni and cheese
Pasta and pasta sauces


Our elders also receive gifts at our two monthly birthday parties. Please consider donating the following to be used as birthday gifts:


Books of 1st-class postage stamps
Manicure sets
Men's socks
Hand and body lotion sets
Ladies' summer tops (med., large, extra-large)
Towel sets
Small pkgs. of candy / nuts


Before dropping off donations, please contact Danielle Fehring at or 612.746.0726. Be sure to complete an in-kind donation form when you stop by. Thank you for your generosity!





More than 200 elders and their volunteer companions shared a traditional ham dinner on Easter Sunday at the Prom Center in Oakdale. An additional 47 meals were delivered to shut-in elders. A total of 117 volunteers helped make the day memorable for our elders.




Did you know that you can support the mission of LBFE through an estate gift? An estate gift can ensure that your assets are kept available for you and your family's needs. In addition, you can optimize those funds through the use of wise tax-saving and income-producing strategies. What's more, a well-prepared estate gift keeps you in control. You decide how your assets will be distributed.

Your will is more than a legal document. It helps ensure the continuation of values that are important to you. With your vision and generosity, the most isolated and vulnerable elders will always have a friend through LBFE.

Be sure to contact your attorney for professional advice when drawing up an estate plan. For further information about planning a charitable bequest to benefit LBFE, please contact Greg Voss at 612.746.0742 or



Our heartfelt thanks to the following foundations and corporations that have recently awarded grants or gifts to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of LBFE:

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America 

Catholic Community Foundation

Hardenbergh Foundation


Margaret H. and James E. Kelley Foundation, Inc.


MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation


Patch Foundation




Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota


Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation, Inc.


Rising Sun Foundation


Margaret Rivers Fund  




 The following people we served were remembered at our recent memorial service:


Hans Anderson

Art Glessner

Al Green

Shirley Haberle

Bob Harris

Will Stein

Kathryn Wilke


Our next memorial services are Monday, June 17, and Monday, August 19, 2013 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 if you wish to attend. Open to all. 


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