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WINTER 2015/2016

Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday!

LBFE's 3rd annual 
with storyteller Kevin Kling

WHEN: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
WHERE: Nicollet Island Pavilion

New friends gain insight through reading lessons
Program Manager Kelly Farrell (left) dropped in on Ray and Visiting Volunteer Gretchen Bustin during a recent reading session.

Ray is a unique LBFE elder friend. For one thing, he doesn't like to be called an elder.
"To a Native American, an elder is someone who knows many things and has great wisdom," Ray said. "I don't feel that I have earned that title."

Although Ray, 72, is not Native American (he is of Italian descent), he identifies with their culture and stories and has dedicated himself to learning about and sharing the history of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
But Ray's thirst for knowledge is challenged by the fact that he is blind. That's where Visiting Volunteer Gretchen Bustin comes into the picture.

For the past several months, Gretchen, age 61, has visited Ray twice a week, spending the afternoons reading historical books. They're currently devouring An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
"Ray and I share a reverence and respect for Native Americans and all people -- no matter their stage in life," Gretchen said. And she shares his sense of rebelliousness. "I grew up in New York City and was influenced by protestors, Ed Sanders and soup kitchens," she said.

Gretchen also identifies with Ray as a person with a disability. She suffered a brain injury several years ago and although the effects are barely visible to others, it has changed her life considerably. She now has more free time and was thrilled to combine her fervor for reading with volunteering.

"I'm grateful for the infinite wisdom of writers," said Gretchen, "and for Ray for opening up my eyes to indigenous people."
And although he can't see them, his walls reflect his passion, with posters and pictures of the North American Buffalo, Black Bear Sioux and the Ten Indian Commandments.
Ray doesn't divulge much information about himself. "Today, people are too preoccupied with illnesses and personal problems," he said. "I don't want be like that. Let's talk about what's important." He added, "You don't see a TV here in my room and it's nothing to do with my being a blind person. The media is not covering the things that really matter." Ray's compassion is evident when he talks about the intelligence of the caregivers who change his dressings and by the way his face lights up at the mention of his brother's family in Michigan, who he will be visiting soon.

"Ray and I are almost like two peas in a pod who share a commonality in our outlook and politics," said Gretchen, who herself is a mother and grandmother. "I have such admiration for elderly people like Ray and their capacity to share the wisdom they've gained over the years."

Ray returned the compliment. "This woman is marvelous," he said. "Gretchen should be running the world."

If you would like to learn how you can enrich an elder's life as a Visiting Volunteer, please contact Georgia Afton at or 612.746.0732.
From the Executive Director
The gift is in the giving
James Falvey     
Executive Director
Most of us are familiar with the short story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, where a young couple each sacrifice their most prized possession to buy a gift for the other. Spoiler alert! The gift each one gives is made useless by the other's gift; she sells her long, beautiful hair to buy him a chain for his pocket watch, and he sells his pocket watch to buy her fancy combs for her hair. Of course there is a lesson here.

That lesson is well understood by the volunteers of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly. For over 40 years our volunteers have given up the prized possession of staying home for the holidays to bring love and kindness to those who would otherwise be alone.

Just as the watch chain and the hair combs seemed to be the "gifts," to those looking in it would seem like our gift is the meal we serve.
As we discover that the real gifts are the sacrifices we make on behalf of those we care about, we start to see that it is not the meal, but the acts of human kindness that touch the hearts of the people we serve. That is the wisdom "The Gift of the Magi" is meant to reflect.

LBFE's motto of "Flowers before Bread" reflects that wisdom. For our volunteers, supporters and staff, it is the modest sacrifice we make to bring dignity and humanity to the act of sharing a special meal. We're not sharing a meal, we're sharing ourselves. That is our gift.
What we receive in return is truly priceless.

James Falvey
Executive Director
How lonely is "lonely"?
Measuring our impact, one elder at a time
]Several times a week, an LBFE program manager will knock on a door and introduce herself to a lonely and isolated elder. The visit is the result of a referral -- initiated perhaps by a county social worker, an out-of-town relative, or even the elder -- and is part of the process of accepting an older adult into our Visiting and Advocacy program.

That first visit also is when we establish the criteria we need to measure our success -- that is, how well we've replaced the elder's loneliness with friendship, a feeling of belonging and well-being.
"The truth is, loneliness if very subjective; there are limits to what can be measured scientifically," said Sandy O'Donnell, Director of Program Services. For several years, LBFE used the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item scale designed to measure feelings of loneliness and social isolation. "The scale was difficult to administer to our elders who are hard of hearing and suffering from other handicaps. Plus, many elders are lonely due to forced isolation -- such as lack of mobility -- and not because of a fear of social risk-taking and other interpersonal problems, which the UCLA scale is weighted toward."

Currently, LBFE's intake process is relatively simple, asking new elder clients to rate themselves on a scale from one to 10 with the following question: How lonely have you felt over the last month? "We use the one-month time frame because when we just asked, How lonely do you feel? they would answer, "I'm not lonely now that you're here," Sandy laughed.

The elder is then asked, When do you feel the loneliest? "This helps us design for the elder what we like to call their 'bouquet of services' to address their unique needs," said Sandy. For example, an elder who feels loneliest over the holidays is invited to a number of holiday events, receives a personalized gift and can come to our community Christmas dinner or get a home-delivered meal. If the elder is loneliest on weekends when their care providers are off duty or adult daycare is closed, we arrange for a Visiting Volunteer to stop by. Others may be matched with a Pen Friend or Family Companions or are included in our many social activities.

To track progress and ensure their "bouquet" is still meeting their needs for socialization, elders are asked to rate their level of loneliness after three months, six months and then each year. "We also ask them to rate their feelings if they experience a life-changing event, such as moving, sickness, or personal loss," Sandy added.

While we strive to expand the number of elders we reach each year, we're just as concerned about the depth of services for each elder. "To us, it's all about developing a meaningful relationship with regular touchpoints and services that make a difference," said Sandy. "Because what we find, time and again, is that for a lonely, isolated elder, LBFE is transformative."
Donating stock: a tax-smart option

Your year-end donation to LBFE not only provides us the means to connect isolated elders to care and companionship in 2016, it may also be a deduction for your 2015 taxes.
If you're looking for additional tax advantages, consider donating appreciated securities directly to LBFE instead of converting it to cash first. As long as you itemize your returns and have held the stock or mutual funds for more than one year, you should be able to deduct the full fair market value. What's more, you'll avoid paying federal and state tax on the capital gain. In other words, you could make a larger gift at a lower cost to you.

Transferring stock to LBFE can be done easily. Simply click here for information, or you can contact James Falvey, Executive Director, at or 612.746.0742.

If you are considering a donation from your IRA for 2015, the tax benefits are once again up in the air. Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD), first introduced temporarily in 2006, allow you to directly transfer up to $100,000 annually from an IRA to charity, tax-free, if you're age 70 or older. Congress generally approves its renewal each year - often at the very end of the tax year - but there is currently no indication of this for 2015.* If you are an IRA owner interested in a QCD, you still may consider doing the transaction now and it should qualify if Congress makes such transactions retroactive as in some past years. Even if this does not happen, you may have satisfied your required minimum distribution and be able to deduct the amount as a charitable contribution if you itemize deductions.

Be sure to seek the advice of your financial advisor to ensure transfers are in keeping with your financial goals.

* As of publication date 12/1/15
October roundtable meetings set the stage for long-range planning

On Thursday, October 22, and Tuesday, October 27, 2015, LBFE conducted roundtable discussions with 44 donors, volunteers, elder friends and representatives of community groups as the first steps in a new engagement strategy. The meetings brought together people who were brand new to LBFE with 40-year supporters. Outcomes we sought were to help LBFE:  Lightbulb transparent  background
  • Develop a better understanding of how our primary constituents currently perceive our organization,
  • Collect insights on how LBFE might position itself given the rapid influx of the baby-boomer generation into the age demographic we serve, and
  • Identify possible initiatives, programs or services that could fill address needs within our community or otherwise help LBFE adapt to a changing environment.
Both meetings were facilitated by Michael Henley of Hansen Henley Yoder & Lamb, LLC. Michael is a former LBFE Executive Director who also served on our Chapter's Board of Directors and the National Board of Directors. Current LBFE staff members presented on the state of the organization in four areas: LBFE's Needs and Challenges Today and Tomorrow; Programs and Services; Volunteerism; and Marketing and Fundraising.
Roundtable discussions followed each staff presentation, with participants answering questions specific to the topics. The discussions yielded many thoughtful answers, suggestions and ideas, ranging from incremental enhancements of current practices to new and creative directions in programming, marketing and revenue.
The roundtables were the first step in developing a strategic plan set to begin in fiscal year 2018. Next steps will include a Board and staff visioning retreat, the formation of a planning team, staff action plan development, and Board review and approval.
International Congress of the Little Brothers 2015
'Together we can end elder isolation'

Did you know that Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly is international? 

The International Federation of Little Brothers of the Poor is headquartered in Paris and has offices in eight countries: the U.S., France, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. In the U.S., there are chapters in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula in addition to our Minneapolis/St. Paul location. All Little Brothers offices and chapters are united by the same mission: ending isolation and loneliness among the elderly of our communities.

From October 15 through 18, more than 100 Little Brothers staff members and volunteers from around the world met for the 2015 International Congress of the International Federation in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Congress, whose theme was "Together we can end elder isolation," was an opportunity to share information and ideas about the global issues associated with the elderly and isolation. Presentations and workshops featured world-renowned specialists discussing such concerns as: aging in prison; empowering seniors out of homelessness; combatting the stigma and isolation of dementia through artistic expression; welcoming LGBT older adults; spirituality in later life; new trends in senior housing; and more.

Our chapter sent five representatives from our staff and Board of Directors to the Congress: Executive Director James Falvey, Volunteer and Outreach Manager Georgia Afton, Program Managers Chelsea Sander and Kelly Farrell, and Board Vice President L.J. Lorentzen. 

"The lectures and workshops were eye-opening and relevant to many of the issues I deal with day in and day out," attested Kelly. "But even more impactful was meeting the dedicated individuals who are all working toward the same mission of bringing companionship and wholeness to lonely elders in our neighborhoods around the world. We came away with great ideas and new energy to help us meet these challenges."

The next Congress will be held in France in 2018.

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


Volunteers from every generation joined our elders in friendship at the Prom Center on Thanksgiving Day so that 135 isolated elders could share a meal with those who care.

LBFE will also host a Christmas Dinner at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis. Volunteer positions are already filled; however, if you are interested in supporting the event as a sponsor, please contact LuAnne Speeter at
or 612.746.0753.

Friday, January 22
Friday, February 26
Friday, March 25

11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
LBFE, 1845 E Lake St.

Our new monthly "cafe" brings 
LGBT boomers, seniors and allies together in friendship and acceptance. 
  • A hearty lunch
  • Scrumptious dessert
  • Great conversation
  • Information on senior and boomer LGBT services
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.

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. Grants support general operations unless noted otherwise.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America

Elmer L. and Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation

Charity, Inc.
Jerome and Ursula Choromanski

The Cliff Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund of Renaissance

Paul and Patricia Curran Foundation

Leonette M. and Fred T. Lanners Foundation (Visiting and Advocacy Program)

MAHADH Fund of HRK Foundation

Onan Family Foundation

Poehler-Stremel Charitable Trust 

Roseville Area Community Foundation
Stevens Square Foundation (Visiting and Advocacy Program)


James R. Thorpe Foundation

H.E. and Helen R. Warren Foundation


HUMP DAY BOWLERS hosted the second annual Little Brothers Bowl on Nov. 15 at Midway Pro Bowl in St. Paul. The event featured challenges, a raffle and lots of prizes. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds were donated to benefit LBFE and our LGBT elder programming.

OUR YEAR-LONG PATH TO BETTER LIVING PROGRAM ended Nov. 9 with a presentation by Brenda Elsagher, "Fun Tales of Life, Longevity and Laughter." Each elder received a certificate to mark their participation in the year-long program that involved workshops and coaching as they worked toward setting and fulfilling personal, social, financial and health goals. Funding was provided by the Stevens Square Foundation and the Leonette M. and Fred T. Lanners Foundation.

JOYEUX ANNIVERSAIRE! Our October birthday party had an international flair as we celebrated with visitors from the International Federation of Little Brothers in Paris, France. Shown are Barbara Bringuier, International Coordinator; elder friend Violet; Gaelle Dutordoir, International Communications Manager; and LBFE volunteer Marge Maule.
The following elder friends we served were remembered at our November memorial service:
Richard Bahl
Doris Condon
Odie Easton
Edith Flohr
Carmen Friedenberg
Delores Heese
Marie Robinson
Lois Trihus

Our next memorial service is:
Monday, February 22
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.

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