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LBFE's 'Laughing at Our Age' benefit is Thursday, July 17!
Humor transcends age with Brave New
Workshop alliance 


Seniors are the heart and soul of what Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly is all about. So who better to perform at our upcoming special event than older adults? 

BNW 55+ student improv
BNW's 55+ Student Improvisational Troupe will perform on July 17



Laughing at Our Age, scheduled for Thursday, July 17, 7 p.m. at the Brave New Workshop's ETC in Minneapolis, will feature its 55+ Student Improvisational Troupe. More than just "putting on a show," improv student performers will involve and interact with the audience, at times using topics suggested by audience members or inviting them up onto the stage. 




612.746.0726 or



"The concept of a 55+ troupe is in keeping with BNW SU's mission to bring improve to every group and every age," said Joe Bozic, director of the BNW Student Union, BNW's improvisational school. "Improvisation is not just for comedy clubs -- it's an art form that can have wonderful effects on our everyday lives. We have

Joe Bozic BNW SU
Joe Bozic, Director of the BNW Student Union.

students who learn improv to be more comfortable talking in front of people or to be creative and 'play.'"


Although the performers are 55+, that's where age delineation ends. For sure, improv humor transcends age and time, and breaks through generational barriers. "We're all together at that one moment and place, interacting with each other and building on the energy," said Joe. "We're saying to each other, 'Yes, and...'"


A boost to elder well-being

The paths of LBFE and Brave New Workshop's 55+ student troupe crossed earlier this year when they came to perform for our elders. The combination was magical. Elder friends who normally were reserved emerged from their shells, became animated, and let their sense of humor shine.


For the isolated elders we serve, humor can be a powerful tool that encourages social interactions. "An individual with a sense of humor is someone who others want to be around," said Kelly Farrell, LBFE Program Manager. "Laughter can deescalate a difficult situation, dissipate anger and elevate moods. It is one of several aspects of holistic programming that LBFE will be exploring in the coming year."


Project 824

LBFE's ability to use Brave New Workshop's elegant downtown Minneapolis facilities is made possible through its Project 824 -- a philanthropic commitment to showcase organizations that "contribute to humanity's ability to solve pressing problems and create a better world." The "824" reflects not only its physical address on Hennepin Avenue, but BNW's commitment to use the venue for 824 different charitable events.


Tickets for Laughing at Our Age are $60 each. The event also includes door prizes, refreshments and a cash bar. Proceeds will benefit LBFE elder programs and services, including in-home visiting, holistic activities and intergenerational programming. To reserve tickets and for more information, visit our website or call 612-746-0726.

From the Executive Director

Bringing joy -- and often a good laugh -- to elders

Greg Voss_email

Greg Voss,

Executive Director


One of the many rewards our staff and volunteers receive daily is the smile of an elder. Sometimes unexpected but always appreciated, we revel in those moments when our elders express joy and happiness that comes from a true sense of belonging. We have the privilege of witnessing this joy at our holiday lunches, social events, Friendship and Flowers, and in our one-on-one Visiting Volunteers program. Recently, our innovative holistic programs have also brought more smiles as program participants move about, exercise and express themselves.


Let's face it -- when we smile, laugh or share a good joke, our entire outlook changes. We lighten up, and the world becomes a better place. Even beyond that, recent studies have confirmed that the more we smile, laugh and engage with others, the healthier we become!


It's truly heartwarming and satisfying to witness the transformation that a smile brings to our elders. We see volunteers sharing smiles and laughter at an event, and the room comes alive. Recently I visited with our Crafts, Cards and Coffee group held here at LBFE. The community room suddenly became a playground as a card game sparked some good-humored ribbing, and a hearty laugh was shared among the good friends around the table.


Our elders are special to all of us. Most have not had the social opportunities to laugh and play together that many of us have had. They feel the pain of isolation, loneliness and, in some cases, fear. When they come together with us, we make a difference by bringing joy and, for at least a while, happiness!


We can all benefit from a few good laughs. Please consider joining us for Laughing at Our Age, a fundraiser for LBFE scheduled for Thursday, July 17. With entertainment by Brave New Workshop's 55+ Student Improvisational Troupe, we will have an opportunity to share in all the fun that comes with appreciating our age.

Greg Voss
Executive Director

Letter writing forges an indelible bond 


When Meredith Nguyen moved here with her husband, Lam, from Pennsylvania several years ago, she looked for ways to connect with others in her community. However, her job commitments prevented her from finding volunteer opportunities that fit with her schedule. Browsing the internet, she came across LBFE's website - and a solution.

Meredith Nguyen and Betty
Meredith Nguyen (left) catches up in person with Pen Friend Betty and LSS volunteer Mary Jo Franske


"I saw that I could be a Pen Friend with an elder through Little Brothers, which meant I could write letters late at night or whenever it worked with my crazy schedule," said Meredith, who is a grant writer with Catholic Charities. In the spring of 2010, she sent in her application to LBFE, attended a volunteer orientation and was matched with an elder named Betty.


"I began to send letters to Betty -- about one a week -- just telling about myself, and sharing things that were important to me, like my love for gardening, and my cat, Patience. Betty would write back to me, and we connected on a number of levels."


Betty would write to Meredith about how she grew up in New Ulm, Minn., and moved to a 200-acre farm in Lafayette where she lived for 20 years with her late husband. "We had cows, pigs, chickens and other animals on the farm and raised seven children there," Betty said. "We also had an orchard and canned everything, picking berries before the birds ate them."


Betty, who has suffered several strokes, needs assistance with writing, which she receives from one of her caregivers, Mary Jo Franske, a member of Senior Corps through Lutheran Social Service. Several times over the years, Meredith, Betty and Mary Jo have met up at the Copper Dome in St. Paul to enjoy breakfast. "I watched Betty move from writing short notes to actually engaging in Meredith's life. This, coupled with the fact that Meredith was willing to go that extra step, has given Betty a sense of ownership and a new opportunity for relationship," said Mary Jo.


Meredith's letters mean a great deal to Betty, who looks forward to receiving them in the mail. "I feel cooped up in my apartment and don't have any way to get to places," said Betty. "If I didn't get any letters from Meredith, I would only get bills or nothing at all. The letters give me something to look forward to."


"Betty has an incredibly positive attitude and I really get so much out of our relationship," said Meredith. "This wouldn't have happened without Little Brothers. Being a Pen Friend is a unique way to provide direct service on my terms. It's really simple to volunteer to be a friend." 


To volunteer, contact Josh Windham at 612.746.0732 or

Supporting LBFE's mission with his time and treasure


A feature story about Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly in the Star Tribune more than eight years ago caught Scott Clugston's eye. It spurred him to inquire about becoming a volunteer and he has been committed to the mission ever since.

LBFE donor Scott Clugston


"I had a great rapport with two sets of grandparents when I was young," recalled Scott. "They were generous with their time

 and we developed a strong kinship. So it seemed natural for me to volunteer to be with older folks."


Scott started out as a Visiting Volunteer for an elder named Warren and met regularly with him for two years. When Warren passed away, Scott was matched with another elder, Ken. In 2010, Scott was also invited to join LBFE's Board of Directors.


"Ken and I had a wonderful, trusting friendship. But his health began to decline, and it was necessary for me to take on the role as his legal guardian," Scott explained. To avoid any conflict of interest, Scott stepped aside as an LBFE volunteer in both his visiting and Board member capacities. Sadly, Ken passed away last November.


Scott has also been an active supporter financially of LBFE. "I had been very broad in my support of a number of charities, but over the past five years I decided to focus on just a few, which gives me a better sense of making an impact," he said. Scott chooses to make an annual donation to LBFE, which is matched by Medtronic, where Scott is employed as a Senior Quality Manager. "At the beginning of every year, I determine how much to donate and allocate that amount - just as if I'm paying a household expense," he said.


Scott's commitment to the mission of LBFE reflects the relationships he has forged over his lifetime. "I have reaped a lot of personal benefit from being with elders," Scott attested. "They've always shown a real sense of gratitude and appreciation for the time that is spent with them. It's my turn to show generosity and gratitude to them, too."


To discuss donation options that best fit your situation, contact Greg Voss at or 612.746.0742.

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Laughing at our Age
From the Executive Director
Letter writing forges an indelible bond
Supporting LBFE's mission with his time and treasure
Activities calendar
2014 Annual Meeting and Ambassador Awards
Easter Sunday at the Prom Center
Recent awards granted
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!


Ambassador awards rose  
Thursday, June 19, 2014
LBFE Community Room
1845 E Lake St., Mpls.

Annual Meeting: 4:30
Ambassador Awards: 5:00
Reception: 5:45

Congratulations to our 2014 Ambassador Award recipients!

AARP Minnesota

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

Bahvik Patel

Julie Reedy of Integrated Home Care - HealthPartners

Dave and Kris Jones

Julie Kraus

League of Catholic Women

Roseville Rotary

James R. Thorpe Foundation

To RSVP, contact 
Danielle at  
  or 612.746.0726.


One hundred isolated elders gathered for a complete ham dinner, with an additional 50 homebound elders receiving delivered meals with flowers. Thank you to the SW Hennepin County Chapter of Thrivent Financial, who contributed toward the cost of the dinner; the Prom Center; and our many volunteers. Pictured are volunteer Jethra Spector (center) with elder friends Salvador and Catalina.


Our heartfelt thanks are offered to the following organizations that have recently awarded grants or gifts to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of LBFE:

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America


Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation


Burdick Family Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation


Paul and Patricia Curran Foundation


Hardenbergh Foundation


MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation


Margaret H. and James E. Kelley Foundation


Medica Foundation 


Patch Foundation


Jay and Rose Phillips 

Family Foundation of Minnesota


Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation


Rising Sun Foundation


Margaret Rivers Fund


James R. Thorpe Foundation


SW Hennepin County Chapter of Thrivent Financial




Voelbel Family Fund of the Twin Cities Christian Foundation


Lynn and Richard Voelbel Family Fund of the  

Minneapolis Foundation


Wells Fargo Volunteer Service Award 


Otto C. Winzen Charitable Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation





The following elder friends we served were remembered at our April memorial service:


Joan Bjorklund

Melvin Brown

Mildred Crain

Willie Fields

marjorie Fischer

Helen Gallo

Marie Hauge

Marilyn Jackson

Margaret Monaghan

Maxine Pierre

Rolando Ruiz

Carl Salo

Helen Severin


Our next memorial service is 

Monday, June 16, 

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 jwindham@

if you wish to attend. Open to all. 


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