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Your support in action!
Phone tree connects elders in friendship


Terry is a naturally outgoing person. As an elder program participant for nearly five years, she's often wondered how she could get to know the other elders better. But lack of mobility, distance and other isolating factors prevented those relationships from growing.

When she joined our Path to Better Living Program, she found her answer. The first sessions focused on setting goals to improve self-esteem and communication. Terry immediately knew what her goal would be. "I thought, wouldn't it be great if we formed a 'phone tree,' and let each other know we're important to each other!" She discussed her idea with Sandy O'Donnell, LBFE Program Services Director, and at the next session two weeks later, invited others to join her Phone Tree. Immediately, eight LBFE friends shared their phone numbers.

Since that time, Terry's phone tree has grown to include 16 people. "We respect each other's boundaries," Terry explained. Some like to talk several times a week; others no more than once a week. A few only want to be called because they have difficulty dialing. "When I call, each one says, 'It's so nice to hear from you!' Or, 'You're such a joy!' It's very heartwarming."

Terry's phone tree turned out to be an excellent solution for elders who long for friendships but don't have the confidence to initiate a relationship. "Everyone needs to feel cared about," Terry said. "And what I learned from my 12-Step work is that, if you're feeling low, it's best to reach out."

Terry has been most gratified by the depth and uniqueness of each elder friend whom she has gotten to know better through the tree. "One gentleman who has always been so quiet in our groups is really intellectual and knows a lot about history. And a woman I talk to regularly is an amazing pianist who plays Mendelssohn and Bach."

But with all the joy and caring the phone tree brings to her friends, Terry is delighted by what it's given back to her. "I now feel that I have a purpose in life -- a reason to get up in the morning," she said.

The Path to Better Living is a year-long program developed by LBFE to give isolated elders the life skills to live independently, focusing on self-esteem, communication, brain fitness and financial skills. It is funded by grants from the Steven Square Foundation, the Leonette M. and Fred T. Lanner Foundation, and donors like you. Thank you for bringing purpose and connectedness to isolated and lonely elders! 

From the Executive Director

LBFE is you


I write this on the eve of my "month-a-versary" as Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly's new executive director. As I

James Falvey     Executive Director

reflect on my first month working with all of you, I find myself feeling wonderfully fortunate. It is an incredible privilege and honor to be entrusted to lead your organization. This honor is made more profound given the fact we have a large and growing number of people who need our services.

I say your organization because without you -- you the volunteer, you the benefactor, you the person who took the time to care -- Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly simply would not exist.

Since 1972, your Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly has been bringing people together to build lasting and meaningful friendships that enrich the lives of elders and volunteers alike. Whether you support these friendships by delivering flowers once a month, by serving holiday meals, by forming a personal friendship as a Visiting Volunteer, by making a financial or in-kind gift, or a combination of these wonderful acts, you are the heart and soul of our caring community.

To lead your organization effectively, I'm going to need your help.


Not only are there more isolated elders who are at risk in our community, but this number is growing rapidly. In the coming weeks and months, I'm going to be reaching out to you. I urgently need to learn from your experiences and understand your perspectives so that together, we can step up and meet the growing demand for the important work we do. This outreach will take the form of surveys, round-table discussions and personal meetings. 


I hope you will make some time for me and your LBFE staff and board of directors. By doing so, you'll help ensure that your legacy will include not just the lives you have touched with your time and treasure, but also your vision for helping to form an even more effective Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly.


Thank you!

James Falvey

Executive Director

Visits with history buff create present-day joys


When Chad Schueler visits LBFE elder friend Donald, they never run out of things to talk about. From sports and books to music and history, the discussions are full of stories, "factoids" and reminiscences.

Donald and Chad prepared for another memorable event as they set out for a St. Paul Saints ga

"Donald's memory for dates, names and history is uncanny," asserted Chad who, at age 35, is in awe of the man 50 years his senior. To prove him right, Donald joined in, "My birthday is June 19, "Juneteenth," a very
popular day in history. That was the day that the slaves in Texas heard that slavery was abolished throughout the U.S." Together, they often search sites about famous historical events and people on Chad's iPad.

The pair of friends usually hold their visits at Donald's assisted living facility in Eastside St. Paul, but they also had recently enjoyed a performance at the History Theater, called "River Road Boogie: The Augie Garcia Story." "I remember Augie," said Donald. "He was the Godfather of Minnesota Rock & Roll in the late '50s. He almost upstaged Elvis Presley when he opened for him, and Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker, yanked him off the stage."

Music history is especially important to Donald, who sang and played drums and the first bass fiddle on the Sunset Valley Barn Dance, a show broadcast on KSTP radio in the 
'40s and '50s. "My day job, though, was driving cabs," Donald recalled.

"He has a thousand stories about those days," laughed Chad. Among Donald's more notable fares were Duke Ellington, a man on the 10 Most Wanted List, and someone who had to catch a flight on Air Force One.

Chad's own history was a significant factor in his becoming a Visiting Volunteer with LBFE. He was born in Sleepy Eye, Minn., but spent much of his childhood in Lakeville, where his grandmother played a large role in his upbringing. When she moved into a nursing home in New Ulm, he often visited her. "She had a stroke at
75, leaving her blind, but she lived many years after that. When I would stop by, I was struck by how many residents had absolutely nobody visiting them."

So earlier this year, Chad joined LBFE and was matched with Donald, vowing to find ways to help him overcome his isolation and engage with his surroundings. But Donald's eyesight is failing due to glaucoma and his hearing is limited, which makes social interaction difficult. "Donald loves audio books. He used to stay connected with a computer, but that's gone now." Sadly, at a previous assisted living facility, all of Donald's personal belongings were thrown away due to a bed bug infestation. "Without his permission, they destroyed his clothes, furniture, books, bible and even his computer," said Chad. "We were able to find him a television, but what he really should have is an iPad. That would help him keep his mind sharp, searching sites for historical events and staying on top of what's happening in the world."

Chad fits his visits in with his job as a sales executive with Travelers Insurance. He lives with his wife Morgan and their 2˝-year-old daughter Halston in the Battle Creek
neighborhood of St. Paul.

As a Visiting Volunteer, you can help an elder stay connected and feel valued.  For more information, please contact Georgia Afton at 612.746.0726 or

Our new website is launched!
LBFE's fresh new website is up and running! The vibrant design features easy navigation, quick access to volunteer opportunities and upcoming events, social media posts in real time and information about LBFE's community impact. check out the special section on health and wellness, with valuable tips promoting physical, mental and social well-being for older persons. The site was designed by local graphic artist Charlie Tétreault and developed by Warner Connect. The redesign was made possible by a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota and the Wells Fargo Community Funding Council. Check it out!
Making elder advocacy personal

Visiting Volunteer Jeanne Perna
Visiting Volunteers like Jeanne Perna (left) help ensure LBFE elder friends maintain their independence as long as possible.
Chances are, when you hear the term "advocacy," you think about individuals or organizations that draw awareness to an issue in order to bring about change. Those big, "systemic" issues include many that LBFE has addressed in workshops, articles and forums - elder abuse, financial scams, LGBT elder isolation, transportation, hoarding and more.

However, in serving our mission, LBFE staff and volunteers are dedicated toward a more personal form of advocacy. Through our Visiting and Advocacy program, isolated elders who would otherwise "fall through the cracks" have a support system that provides friendship and encouragement, assists them through times of change and loss, and connects them to critical resources, enabling them to stay independent longer in their own homes.

"The root of the word 'advocacy' means 'voice,'" said Sandy O'Donnell, LBFE's Director of Program Services. "We help elders find their voice and empower them to speak up for themselves. We act on their behalf, show them how to apply for SNAP or other food assistance, and help them navigate systems."

As an example, one elder, who we'll call Tom, came to one of our social events on his own by way of a city bus. Tom usually comes by an accessible bus, but his personal care attendant called in sick and no one was available to make arrangements. "Tom recently had a stroke and clearly shouldn't have been on his own that day," Sandy said. "We worked with him to ensure that a back-up attendant was available for him."

The Visiting and Advocacy program serves approximately 250 elders annually. A program manager is assigned to each elder and creates a plan for ongoing social interaction, which can involve matching them with Visiting Volunteers if appropriate.

"Every elder is unique and we meet them where they are at," said Sandy. "They come to us lonely, many experiencing self-neglect and depression. It's those kinds of situations that can lead to a decline in independence and, all too often, nursing home placement that could otherwise be delayed or avoided altogether." The average annual cost of living in a nursing home exceeds $82,000 in the Twin Cities* -- an amount that is unsustainable for the elders we serve. However, by advocating for elders and keeping them engaged and active, LBFE keeps down costs both for individuals and their support systems. In fact, according to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, every one percent increase in informal caregiving (such as families or neighbors caring for older persons at home) is estimated to save the State $30 million per year in formal (nursing home or home care) costs.

Visiting and Advocacy has been the core of LBFE's mission in the Twin Cities for 43 years. With your continued support, we remain committed to keeping isolated elders independent and connected to their communities for years to come.

*Source: Genworth Financial, Inc., (Interactive chart, Minneapolis. MN area statistics)
Be an elder advocate in your neighborhood!
  • Does your elder neighbor need assistance?
    Watch for signs, such as a lawn that's unmowed or sidewalks that don't get shoveled. Offer your assistance, or get together with neighbors to check in on them regularly.
  • Is your neighborhood accessible?
    If your streets lack sidewalks and adequate lighting, petition your city council to develop a vision and goals toward a more livable community for older adults.

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Please support LBFE's work to provide friendship to lonely seniors in the Twin Cities.




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

We're launching a new monthly "cafe" where LGBT seniors can come together in friendship and acceptance. Join us for:
  • a healthy lunch
  • scrumptious dessert
  • great conversation
  • information on senior LGBT services
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Begins Thursday, July 30, then the fourth Friday of each month beginning in August

1845 East Lake St., Minneapolis

Cost: FREE

Seating is limited: Register today! or 612.746.0726. 

LET'S DO LUNCH is a joint effort by LBFE and Prime Timers MSP. Sponsored by PFund.






Executive Director James Falvey visited with elders shortly after joining LBFE on May 4. "Meeting staff, volunteers, donors and elders has been incredibly exciting - all the people who make LBFE the tremendous force that it is,' James said. He previously served in leadership positions at Great Rivers United Way, Viterbo University, Mississippi Valley Conservancy and Mississippi River Basin Alliance. LuAnne Speeter, who acted as Interim Executive Director over the past 10 months, has resumed her role as Director of Communications and Development. Watch for opportunities to meet with James in the coming months, or feel free to contact him at 612.746.0742 or  






As a supporter of LBFE, you help isolated and lonely elders with a number of critical, life-affirming services and programs every day of the year. 
A number of our supporters choose to become valued "sustainers" by joining our Monthly Giving Club. Here's how becoming a sustainer will benefit both you and LBFE:

You can arrange for your tax-deductible gift to be transferred automatically from your bank account or credit card in the amount of your choice. 

You'll cut down on paperwork, save on postage and spread out your giving. You'll receive a cumulative receipt at the end of the year to assist in your tax preparation.

You'll help LBFE forecast cash flow more effectively and keep administrative costs down. 

As a result, your gifts will go further to help even more elders.


To join our Monthly Giving Club, please contact Danielle at 612.746.0726 or





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


Irving Beck

Joe  Hanzal

Sophie Johannes

Shirley Lindquist

Geri O'Donnell 


Our next memorial service is: 

Monday, August 24, 

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 Sandy at 612.746.0724 or 


if you wish to attend. Open to all. 



 Volunteers, friends and supporters helped us celebrate on Thursday, May 7, at our Laughing at Our Age benefit at the Nicollet Island Pavilion. John Williams of WCCO-am radio and the Klondike Kates entertained, while staff, board members and dedicated volunteers and donors shared their stories. An amazing planning committee worked tirelessly to make it a success. The evening ended on a high note and we are thrilled at the many relationships that were forged or
strengthened as a result. Special thanks to our sponsors and partners, including Brave New Workshop, iLoan Home Mortgage, Insty-Prints Edina, McGough Construction, Minneapolis Riverside Lions Club, Prime Timers MSP, SiebenCarey and Wells Fargo.


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

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation

Burdick Family Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation

Catholic Community Foundation

Choi-Chiu and King-Wo Lam Family Fund

Cimperman Family Charitable Fund of The US Charitable Gift Trust

John and Bonnie Crouch Fund

Paul and Patricia Curran Foundation

Patricia A. Erlandson Charitable Giving Account of Fidelity Charitable

Michael Leo Ellingsworth Charitable Fund

Hardenbergh Foundation

Julie C. and William R. Howard Charitable Fund

HRK Group

Insty-Prints Edina FootPRINT Fund

Margaret H. and James E. Kelley Foundation

John and Lyn Lawyer Fund

MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation

Minneapolis Riverview Lions Club

Mark and Jackie Nolan Family Fund

James T. Nystrom Foundation

Onan Family Foundation

The Casey Albert T. O'Neil Foundation

The Patch Foundation


The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota

Piper Jaffray Companies Foundation
he Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation

Margaret Rivers Fund

David J. Sutton Fund of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund

James R. Thorpe Foundation

Thrivent Financial Southwest Hennepin Chapter

Thrivent Financial Central Minneapolis Chapter


Voelbel Family Fund of the Twin Cities Christian Foundation

John and Agnes Vos Fund

Richard and Elizabeth Weigel Family Fund

Otto C. Winzen Charitable Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation