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FALL 2013

International Day for Older Persons: October 1

A show of appreciation for elders!

On December 14, 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared that, around the world, each October 1 would be known as International Day for Older Persons. This pronouncement wasn't just a nicety. It was a recognition of the "need for innovative and effective international co-operating in the field of aging" so that all countries can respond to the needs of an aging population.
So what does that mean for our elders here in the Minnesota? The state ranks second in the nation for longevity, and we have a higher proportion of elders than many other states. As the baby boomer generation ages, this huge demographic shift is already straining our health and human services agencies. And yet, healthful living, medical innovations, technology and a strong social network are keys to helping the elder population live independently longer.

By appreciating the elders around us, we advocate for their needs. But we also celebrate the many gifts they possess and that we benefit from -- wisdom, humor, experience, energy and friendship.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly staff and volunteers will distribute rose lapel pins throughout the community. The lapel pins will remind those who wear them -- and those who see them -- how valuable elders are to our communities. Please make a commitment this October -- and every day -- to appreciate the elders in our lives!

From the Executive Director

Staff strengths bring new energy to programs

Greg Voss_email

Greg Voss,

Executive Director


For 40-plus years, Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly staff have worked hand in hand with our loyal volunteer corps to provide the very best programs for our elders. From social events and classes to our Visiting Volunteer and Friendship and Flowers programs, we have "been there" for our elders, bringing them smiles, compassion, education and hope.

Strong nonprofit organizations and their teams must run on all cylinders to ensure their effectiveness. Our staff is doing just that. Over the summer we have developed extensive plans in the areas of program development, communications and marketing, volunteerism, community partnerships and fund raising. We have realigned the responsibilities of several staff members to allow them to play to their unique strengths (p. 3). Our staff displays a high level of teamwork every day; we are poised and excited for program growth.

In Fiscal Year 2014, which began on July 1, 2013, we are concentrating on a holistic approach to programming (p. 6). Our experience bears out that when we offer events that address the wide range of elders' needs - social, physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual - the outcome is a greater sense of independence, self-worth, community connectedness, and joy. These are all critical elements in fulfilling our mission of companionship to isolated elders in the Twin Cities.

Of course, we are working in concert with our board of directors to ensure we have sufficient resources in place to sustain these new programs and services.

Thank you, our valued stakeholders, who invest your volunteer time and treasure to support our efforts. We are not able to achieve our mission without you! Because of you, our team stands ready to deliver new avenues to hope and friendship for the elders we serve.

Greg Voss
Executive Director

Top row: Josh, Danielle, Sandy, Greg and Christina; bottom row: Kelly, LuAnne and Chelsea

Meet our team!


If you ever play Scrabble® and you're stuck finding a word, try scrambling the tiles for a fresh approach.


That's what LBFE did -- sort of -- in analyzing our staff needs. "We have amazing staff members who have been with us a number of years, and we had a couple open positions to fill. Rather than just filling the open positions with new hires, we laid everything out on the table," said Greg Voss, Executive Director.


That meant looking at the strengths and qualifications of the existing team members to see if they could fill some of the open position duties. It also meant shifting responsibilities, creating fresh and more relevant job titles, and then hiring for the newly identified positions. The result is a better use of skills that will enable us to build more partnerships, offer more complete volunteer services, present a more cohesive message to the community, enhance our fundraising strategy, and be more adept at fulfilling our mission with our programs and services.


Our staff team


Greg Voss, Executive Director, works with the Board of Directors to set the strategic direction of LBFE. Greg oversees the program, development, financial and administrative departments. Greg joined LBFE in 2011.


Sandy O'Donnell, Program Services Director, has been with LBFE for 16 years. She oversees program development and evaluation, and trains and assigns program staff. Sandy coordinates elder services for downtown Minneapolis and its north and northwest suburbs.


Chelsea Igou, Program Manager, joined LBFE in 2010. She coordinates elder services for South Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs, develops programs and advocates for elders. Chelsea's specialty is intergenerational programming.


Kelly Farrell, Program Manager, coordinates elder services for the east side of St. Paul and its northeast and southeast suburbs. She also contributes to program development and elder advocacy. Kelly joined LBFE in June and has extensive experience in elder health and wellness programs.


Christina Fairbanks, Program Coordinator, joined our staff in July, having been an LBFE intern for the past year. Christina coordinates elder services in Central St. Paul and its northwest and southwest suburbs.


Josh Windham, Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager, joined LBFE in 2010 and now is responsible for volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition. He also develops and manages partnerships with corporate and community groups, and coordinates event sponsorships.


LuAnne Speeter, Communications and Development Director, also joined LBFE in 2010. She applies 30 years of nonprofit and corporate communications experience to print, online and social media messaging; develops fundraising and public relations campaigns; and researches and writes grants.


Danielle Fehring, Administrative Assistant, provides office support for the executive director and program, volunteer and development departments. She also manages the database, coordinates outcome tracking and handles facility needs and technical operations. Danielle has been with LBFE for one year.


This stellar group is balanced by our all-volunteer Board of Directors, whose 12 members represent some of the Twin Cities most respected corporations and community groups. Staff needs are rounded out by MACC CommonWealth, which provides financial and human resources services.

Well-traveled psychotherapist comforts homebound elders


Volunteer. Licensed psychologist and Alderian psychotherapist. World traveler. Genogram maker. Spiritual director. Mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. 

Elaine Brant

Elaine Brant has worn many hats throughout her 89 years. She gladly tells of her experiences that span

the world, and intertwines them with family anecdotes. The walls and shelves of her St. Paul home are filled with mementos that act as visual aids to her storytelling.

Elaine embraced opportunities to travel. Her husband, Warren, who passed away in 1994, was a travel advisor for AAA and a photographer. "But while Warren found ways to work so he could travel, I was invited to travel for work," said Elaine, who holds three Masters degrees in psychotherapy and spiritual direction. In the 1990s, she was asked by the Lutheran World Federation to teach Western-style counseling to psychology students in India. She has also traveled to Africa and Japan.

One technique Elaine successfully used in her group counseling classes abroad was role-playing. "For example, one student had a problem with her boss but was afraid to tell him her concerns directly," said Elaine. "So I had her talk to me as if she was her boss and I was the student. Then I said, 'Okay, now that I understand what your boss is like a little better, I'll take the role of your boss and you be yourself. Now tell me what your concerns are.' She was then able to communicate her issues without my telling her what to say."

In 2009, Elaine traveled with her grandson Nick to Tanzania. Later that year on her birthday, Nick gave her a photo album of their travels with his own hand-illustrated cover.

Although her travel has curtailed, Elaine still enjoys genealogy, a lifelong passion. In fact, she interviewed her grandmother Nellie, a Swedish immigrant, in 1955 and wrote a book about her life. The book contains Elaine's family tree and many illustrations by Warren.

Elaine joined LBFE in 2009 as a volunteer therapist with our former counseling department, and currently is a Visiting Volunteer for two homebound elders. "I don't drive anymore, so I use MetroMobility to get around," she said. Still, she doesn't have plans for slowing down and joins us at LBFE social events as a very special part of our family.


Relieving elder isolation with holistic options


LBFE is known for putting on a great party! Every month, elders' birthdays are celebrated with a lunch, cake and other festivities at our Lake Street facility. Elder friends on the east side of St. Paul are invited to their own monthly birthday party at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church.  Sponsors and volunteers join staff in making these events fun and memorable.

But each older adult is unique, and many of them seek social connectedness in varying ways. "Our elder friends are multi-faceted, just like everyone else," said Sandy O'Donnell, LBFE Program Services Director. "We want to appeal to the many sides of their natures with holistic programming."

Some like the challenge of competition through cards or board games, and others like to sit and chat while they crochet. For this reason, we hold a monthly Cards, Crafts and Coffee group. Sports tailgaiting events and fitness programs have been offered for those who want to be more active in a group setting. In October, those who enjoy company on a road trip will hop a bus to an apple orchard. Days of reflection are held each quarter at the Benedictine Center, providing a deeper spiritual experience. And intergenerational events are available for those who appreciate the energy and viewpoints of students. Other programming that appeals to more intellectual interests is in the works.

Program development is an outcome of considerable planning. "Staff and the board of directors come together to set a strategic plan, which is always based on our mission," said Sandy. From there, program planning considers the interests and needs of the community, those of existing elder participants, projections about future elder needs, as well as which programs will receive funder support. The full calendar is then presented to the board.

"Ultimately, the goal of our social activities calendar is to help as many elders as possible enjoy a fuller, richer life and enhance their well-being and independence while connecting to community," said Sandy.


Find us on Facebook

International Day for Older Persons
From the Executive Director
Meet our team!
Well-traveled psychotherapist volunteers
Holistic programming
Activities calendar
Volunteer training on elder abuse
Univita mixes fitness with fun
In memory


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

Twin Cities






Become a vibrant part of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly!


Attention LBFE Volunteers!



Wednesday, Oct. 9, 1-2 pm at LBFE, 1845 East Lake St.

Tara Patet,

Sr. Prosecutor

Every year, millions of older Americans suffer in silence from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Sadly, it is one of the most under-reported crimes.


Tara Patet, Senior Prosecutor with the City Attorney's Office in St. Paul and LBFE Board Vice President, will provide volunteers with information on what elder abuse looks like, including warning signs and symptoms, why it occurs and persists, and how to report suspected abuse.
Reserve your spot by contacting Danielle Fehring at 612-746-0726 or There is no charge.







Univita Health opened up its Eden Prairie location in June to celebrate birthdays with 17 LBFE elders. After lunch, Pam Kreager, RN, Senior Director of Clinical Quality and Standards at Univita, presented ways elders can get more fit and stay connected with others through healthy activities.





Ambassador awards rose

Nine individual, community and corporate partners were honored with the 2013 Ambassador Award at LBFE's Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 20. The Ambassador Awards recognize partners who have introduced our mission into new arenas or paved the way to greater reach and effectiveness. 
This year's Ambassador Award recipients are:

Steve Goranson for producing, scripting and editing LBFE's video.


Just Desserts for 25 years of in-kind bakery donations. 


Prime Timers MSP for partnership in volunteer recruitment and serving the aging LGBT community.


Jethra Spector for school andcommunity connections with Friendship and Flowers.


Laura Schommer for leadership and long-term commitment, including board membership and international representation. 


Stevens Square Foundation for legacy support of programs.


Target for legacy support of general operations, with a focus on food-based programs.


Univita Health for ongoing corporate partnership, event sponsorship and volunteer recruitment.


Wells Fargo International Group for event sponsorship and volunteer recruitment.




Older residents in Minnesota far outpace national rates for volunteering. Statewide, nearly half (45%) of local residents age 65-74 volunteer, and almost a third age 75+ give time to organizations each year.


- Minnesota Compass






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


Charles Fraley

Signe Johanneson

Edith Johnson

Eugene R. Jones

Ethel Larson

Sharon Ledoux

Betty Roth

Russell Sweezo

Sandra Windhorst

Rose Zeman


Our next memorial services are Monday, Oct. 21, and Monday, Dec. 16, 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 612.746.0732 or if you wish to attend. Open to all. 


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