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Former radio man finds warm reception at LBFE


Former disc jockey Willie Jackson appreciates that LBFE gives elders a setting where they can "live our loud."

A genuine gentleman, our elder friend Willie Jackson adds sparkle to every event at Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. His quick wit and charming manner make it easy to understand why he had an impressive broadcasting career. A highly sought-after disc jockey in the '70s and '80s, Willie (a.k.a. Super D, as in Dynamite) toured the Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas tri-state area, hosting his own live radio show on WLOK, Memphis, where he promoted famous labels, including Stax Records and celebrated artists like Al Green, The Soul Children and David Porter.

Willie's radio career is all the more impressive given the hard circumstances of his childhood. He never knew his father, and he and his four siblings ended up in different foster homes when his mother could no longer support the family. From the age of 12 to 18, Willie lived at a training school for boys, where he suffered significant abuse.

Willie's resilience shows when he speaks with gratitude of his new life in the Twin Cities. "I'll take Minnesota winters any day over the fear of growing old and alone in Memphis," he said. Willie arrived in the Twin Cities less than two years ago, and explains, "I came on a prayer because I heard this was a good place to grow old. I came without clothes against the cold. But the welcome I received from the Union Gospel Mission and LBFE warmed me more than any Tennessee sunshine ever could."

A man who naturally gravitates toward others, it makes his day when he knows he has an event to look forward to. "An LBFE party on the horizon lifts me out of the loneliness that can descend at night," he said.

Relieving that loneliness in the lives of other elders has become a passion for Willie. A believer in giving back, Willie makes it a priority to be there for others. Before attending holiday celebrations at LBFE, he puts in his own volunteer hours serving meals to the homeless at the Union Gospel Mission.

"With the baby boomers turning gray, we really need LBFE to be strong," Willie said. "I hate that so many seniors are afraid to step outside their own front doors. They need to know, as LBFE reminds me, that we elders are valuable -- that people care about our lives. We get to be seen, we get to be heard, and we get to live out loud. That's the legacy I want to help LBFE build."

Willie sees LBFE volunteers and donors creating a legacy, too. "When supporters invest in making elders' lives better, they set an example for the next generation of adults," he said. "It's a beautiful thing to know that an investment in LBFE, no matter what your age, is an investment in everyone's future." 

LBFE presents ...

A benefit to end elder isolation and loneliness in our neighborhoods.

Thursday, May 7, 2015  6:30 - 9:30 p.m.
The Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street, Minneapolis
              WCCO-AM Host                  The Klondike Kates
               John Williams 

Hors d'oeurvres | Desserts | Cash Bar | Silent Auction | Trivia

Tickets: $60 | $75 after April 1
RSVP by April 28: 612.746.0726 or

From the Interim Executive Director

Fostering neighborhoods that embrace their elders


Did you know St. Paul is broken up into 17 neighborhoods? And that Minneapolis has 11 communities, each one subdivided into somewhere between 4 and 13 neighborhoods?

LuAnne Speeter 
Interim Executive Director


When we visit our elder friends, we enter their worlds, which are their neighborhoods. Take 86-year-old Shirley. A lifelong resident of the Payne-Phalen area of St. Paul, she lives alone and needs a walker but is still quite mobile. She's happy to have an LBFE volunteer accompany her as she makes her rounds to the post office, to Target, and to feast on an ice cream cone. Her eyes light up when she's recognized by neighbors and store clerks and they call her by her name. She loves her neighborhood and, in her words, "wants to grow old here."

But elders are often faced with changing neighborhoods. The biggest change, according to U.S. Census records, is that households are becoming more transient. They consist of more young single people who are rarely home, and fewer families that set down roots and build relationships with their neighbors. Many elders have neighbors who may not speak the same language. The language barrier then becomes an isolating factor and therefore a risk to an elder who may need a helping hand but fears not being understood. For those who have difficulty getting around, they lose their connection to their community. Their world becomes whatever is accessible by phone; a world that's colder, more remote, and less personal.

What about your neighborhood? How welcoming is it for those who are older? Does it have sidewalks in good repair, well-lit streets and adequate transportation systems? A healthy, vibrant neighborhood is one that not only provides a positive business environment, progressive schools and access to parks, but also creative and humane solutions for elders so they can age in place.

By volunteering with elders in your neighborhood, you're making it more livable and hospitable for people as they age. We're proud to provide ways for hundreds of volunteers to make their communities more welcoming for elders who want the option of remaining in them.

LBFE is celebrating the contributions that Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods make in the lives of elders at our fundraiser, "Laughing at Our Age 2: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Tangletown." We hope you will join us on Thursday, May 7, 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. Our featured entertainers will be John Williams of WCCO-AM and the hilarious Klondike Kates. For tickets, email dfehring@littlebrothersmn or call 612.746.0726.


LuAnne Speeter

Interim Executive Director

Leave a legacy of caring through
your estate plan

Your commitment to the mission of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly can be demonstrated a number of ways: through volunteering, referring elders for our services, and making charitable gifts. You may also wish to give to LBFE through your estate.

By setting up an estate gift, you 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. For example:
  • You can set up your gift as "residual" (the remaining portion of your estate after other beneficiaries are named); a percentage of your estate; or specific dollar amount or property.
  • You can designate that your gift will be applied toward a particular LBFE program, such as Visiting and Advocacy or Holiday Meals; directed toward overall operational costs; or even "wherever the need is greatest."
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 Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, please contact LuAnne Speeter at or 612.746.0753.

Volunteer event driver Judy Peters

Cherishing the Kodak moments 

Since 2003, volunteer Judy Peters has devoted hundreds of hours and driven thousands of miles accompanying elder friends to and from LBFE's social activities. These have included sparkling summer picnics on Lake Josephine, intergenerational events, novelty day trips, monthly birthday celebrations, an

Volunteer Judy Peters figures she has driven more than 100 different elders to LBFE social events over the past 12 years.

d much-anticipated Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving gatherings.

Volunteers like Judy are at the center of our efforts to reduce elder loneliness and isolation. By contributing their time and "wheels," they help us create a dynamic, dependable community where elders feel they belong and can build and maintain friendships with their peers, LBFE staff and volunteers.

Judy was first drawn to volunteer with LBFE in the painful aftermath of losing her own mother. She herself was coming into retirement, and wanted to reach out to older people. A dozen years later, she figures she has touched the lives of well over 100 elders.
"It's important for elders to get out, to have people to see, things to do and places to go," Judy said. "They need to have something to look at other than their own four walls."

But Judy does more than drive and socialize at events. She captures memories with her camera. "After every event, I send the elders photos of themselves having a good time," she said. "They love getting mail, and having the picture extends their fun and happiness beyond the event itself. I love to see the joy on their faces captured forever in the photos."

Judy is especially fond of LBFE's birthday parties. "Everyone gets a gift and feels special for the day," she s

aid. "It's great driving people home at the end of the day because they're so energized and upbeat." Driving for elders during the holidays is meaningful, too. Judy recalled one gentleman in particular saying how nice it was to eat off china instead of paper. "Elders deserve some elegance and beauty in their lives," she added.

Judy believes that driving elders to LBFE events is a worthwhile investment. "With just a small commitment of a few hours, you can really add so much to an elder's outlook on life."

You, too, can enrich an elder's life as an event driver! For more information, please contact Josh Windham at 612.746.0732 or

Advocating for elder nutrition

A healthy meal or snack is a part of almost every LBFE elder gathering. But our commitment to nutritional health goes well beyond our social events and begins the day we first meet our elder friends.

Elders had an opportunity to sign up for SNAP at a recent LBFE event.
"As part of our intake process, we screen each elder's nutritional status and needs," said Sandy O'Donnell, LBFE's Director of Program Services. "If basic nutritional needs aren't being met, we advocate on the person's behalf so they can still live as independently as possible."

In the case of elders living alone, staff members ask if they are able to cook for themselves. We may connect them with services such as Store-to-Door, a volunteer-driven nonprofit grocery-shopping service that delivers to those who lack transportation.

For those who find it difficult to prepare three meals a day, LBFE helps elders sign up for programs offering ready-made home-delivered meals. "Recently, Metro Meals on Wheels, sponsored a birthday lunch for our elders," Sandy recalled. "Its staff catered a delicious chicken dinner, served on elegant silver platters. When we revealed that the food came from Meals on Wheels, many of the elders couldn't wait to sign up!" Optage Senior Dining Choices, another home-delivery service, helps elders figure out insurance coverage and financial assistance for meals.

LBFE program staff also helps low-income elders obtain nutritional support through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a U.S. government program. SNAP offers electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards that can be used to purchase food at stores and farmers' markets. "Plus, we operate our own small emergency food shelf for elders in our programs who find themselves without access to a healthy meal," Sandy added.

Elders in assisted-living situations may not understand their meal options, as well. In those cases, LBFE acts as an advocate, encouraging elders to speak up for their choices and nutritional needs. "We take a holistic approach to our elders' well-being," said Sandy. "An important part of that is to ensure they don't neglect their nutrition -- no matter their circumstances."

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




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


Thomas Bergstrom
Scott Bloom
Lorraine Bornoz
Sharon Branson
Cornelia Coppersmith
Marjorie Douglas
Barbara Finocchiaro
Rosa Friedman
Margaret Gannon
Carmen Harlan
Catherine Harris
Bethel Hedstrand
Betty Lackay
Ben Lucio
Jane Patyk
Mary Primeau
Gary Siegrist
Rebecca Stier 


Our next memorial services are 

Monday, April 20, and Monday, June 15, 

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. 



 CHRISTMAS AT ST. MARY'S. St. Mary's University in Minneapolis was the festive venue for this past year's Christmas dinner, where LBFE hosted 100 isolated Twin Cities elders. Hot meal deliveries were sent out to an additional 47 homebound elders. We were blessed to have the assistance of 169 volunteers who escorted elders, set-up, prepared and served the meal, washed dishes and delivered leftovers to the Dorothy Day Center.  

THE CAT'S MEOW.  Elder friend Anna and LBFE Program Coordinator Christina Fairbanks got a chuckle out of a greeting card while shopping at Target. The card featured two kitties with beauty masks and a caption that read, "It takes work." 

St. Peter's AME Choir entertained and inspired our elders and volunteers during February in honor of Black History Month. The elders clapped and sang along. LBFE board member Val Henderson sang a particularly moving rendition of "Through It All" in his rich baritone voice.

by Jim Sorensen

I began my volunteering (and, soon after, monthly giving) with Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly following the example of my lifetime friends, John and Carol Hoffman. They started their journey with LBFE at our Twin Cities chapter's very beginning in 1972. 

I took to heart the mission of Armand Marquiset, who in 1946 founded our parent organization Little Brothers of the Poor following the war in Europe: to be aware and attentive of our elder neighbors and friends, at any time or place. Like the poor, they will always be with us. His admonition resonated with me and compelled me -- especially after meeting and serving so many elders who became my friends -- to ask how I could continue to attend to them after I am gone.

The thought had been rolling around in my mind for a while until recently when I heard someone opine that "you can't take it with you." Knowing that the people I have served and come to love could continue to be treated to holiday parties, helped in their home settings, driven to do some shopping, etc. through my estate plan is a way that I can take something with me -- a legacy of the heart.
I give my time and money now to LBFE, and will continue giving my money well into the future.

"Dietary requirements change as we age, and elders, especially those living alone, may risk malnutrition," says nutritionist and LBFE volunteer Bridget Doyle. "Adequate hydration and meals rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats and naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are a definite boost when it comes to healthy aging." To safeguard against poor nutrition, Bridget offers elders the following advice:

Hydrate! Start each day with an 8 - 12 glass of water. Have an 8 oz. glass with every meal, and aim for five to eight glasses daily, regardless of other beverage intake.


Have protein with every meal, especially breakfast,

to maintain muscle mass, which guards against falls and prevents broken bones. Try for the number of protein grams equivalent to half your weight. 

Focus on fiber. Plan on at least one cup of fresh, canned or frozen fruit or vegetables with each meal. Add fiber and protein-rich foods such as sweet potatoes, beans, lentils and whole grains and breakfast foods like oatmeal and Wheaties to your menu.


Don't forget the fats. Healthy fats include walnuts, almonds, olive oil, tuna, salmon, sardines and avocadoes.


Reduce sodium intake, especially if hypertension or kidney problems exist.


Follow doctor's orders regarding supplements, vitamins and minerals, which should be based on your individual needs.


Indulge your sweet tooth occasionally. Food is a pleasure. Enjoy it!