105 Chauncy St. Boston, MA 02111 friend@fw4elders.org 6174821510

History and Timeline

FriendshipWorks (originally MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteers) was founded as a model program in 1984 with a three-year initial grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This grant funded a network of religious congregations and social service agencies with a mission to decrease the isolation of elders and disabled adults and prevent unnecessary institutionalization and enhance their quality of life.

1988 - A volunteer assists a woman getting off the Elder Bus with her groceries.
1988 – A volunteer assists a woman getting off the Elder Bus with her groceries.

The original MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteers caregiver coalition was supported by congregations, religious organizations, and senior service providers across Boston and Brookline. Many continue to lend their support today.

Throughout its history, FriendshipWorks’ mission has remained constant as its services have expanded to meet growing needs. In 1987, we were a founding member of the National Federation of Interfaith Caregivers. It has since served as a replicable model for 1300 similar programs across the United States.

In 1991, FriendshipWorks separated from its founding agency and became an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. After two office moves, FriendshipWorks settled into its present 105 Chauncy Street office in 2003.

FriendshipWorks has won numerous awards over the years. In 1999, Gov. Paul Cellucci proclaimed November 21 as MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteers Recognition Day. In 2005, Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Commission on Elderly Affairs awarded us the Edward L. Cooper Award for Outstanding Neighborhood Based Senior Service Agency.

In 2014, FriendshipWorks celebrates its 30th year of service to elders and adults with disabilities in Boston and Brookline.

Since its inception, FriendshipWorks has assisted over 23,400 Boston-area elders, providing almost half a million hours of donated care. This represents a value of more than $10,442,500 worth of care.


1984 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation gave seed money to Back Bay Boston Aging Concerns for their friendly visiting program called MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers

1984 – Partnership started with two Boston Housing Authority Buildings—residents invited to weekly coffee hours

1984 – First Advisory Committee formed from participating congregations and organizations

1984-1987Fordham University Third Age Center studied MATCH-UP and the other 24 programs piloted by RWJ – finds it is a very cost effective and successful model

1987 – MATCH-UP took over transportation programs from Boston Aging Concerns

1987 – Founding member of the National Federation of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers – goal is to develop other interfaith volunteer caregiver programs throughout the country (name changed to Faith in Action National Network)

1989United Way funding of $45,000 to Boston Aging Concerns kept MATCH-UP services in community

1991 Boston Aging Concerns made decision to cut MATCH-UP from its budget

1991Advisory Committee sought funding to keep MATCH-UP going

1991 – Rebekah Richardson offered free housing at Hale House

1991 – Boston Foundation gave supporting grant to help MATCH-UP become a stand-alone agency

1991 – Advisory Committee members stayed on and recruited others to be first MATCH-UP Board. Sr. Madeline Gallagher elected 1st Board President and bylaws created

1991 – Elder Bus services ended

1992 – Date of incorporation

1994 – First Elders in the Arts benefit held in celebration of MATCH-UP’s 10th Anniversary

1998 – Grant received from Tufts Health Plan to start MATCH-UP’s access community education program: What’s Up Doc.

1999 – MATCH-UP celebrated 15th year and received recognition from Gov. Cellucci and Mayor Menino

2001 – Partnership between Sherrill House and MATCH-UP launched Jamaica Plain Chapter focused on a bilingual community

2002 – MassAging Certificate of Merit for collaboration with Sherrill House

2003 – Partnership between Animal Rescue League and MATCH-UP launched PetPals nursing home visitation program

2003 – Robert Wood Johnson granted funding to start Strong For Life exercise program.

2004 – MATCH-UP chosen out of 1,000 Faith in Action programs to attend U.S. Congress Tricaucus meeting on minority services

2005 – MATCH-UP Celebrated 20 years of service

2005 – First Jamaica Plain Elder Care Network meeting

2005 – MATCH-UP received Boston’s Edward L. Cooper Award for outstanding work with neighborhood based senior services

2007 – Photojournalism exhibit displayed throughout Boston and at National Hall in Washington D.C.

2007 – Recognition of services from Sen. John Kerry

2007 – 1st AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer joined MATCH-UP

2008 – MATCH-UP highlighted in Promise to Mary, a book by Dr. Paul Jellinek about Faith in Action programs

2008 – MATCH-UP received Beverly Foundation’s STAR Search Award for its senior transportation service.

2008 – MATCH-UP awarded Commonwealth Corps grant; added 3 Commonwealth Corps Members in Jamaica Plain

2008 – 2012 –  Executive Director, Janet Seckel-Cerrotti, was acting president of the National Volunteer Caregiving Network

2009 – MATCH-UP celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a symposium and celebration at Northeastern University

2010 – MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteers became FriendshipWorks.

2010 – Grant from the National Center on Senior Transportation brought in a researcher to evaluate the Medical Escort program.

2010 – Facilitated the Congregational Connections for Elders, brought together 13 faith communities to discuss keeping elders engaged in their congregations

2011 – Awarded the Beverly Foundation STAR Award for Excellence

2011 – Organized and facilitated the JP Elder Care Network’s series of bilingual workshops on senior transportation options

2012 – Board of directors undertook an organizational strategic plan and decided to double our service and impact in the next 3 to 5 years

2012 – FriendshipWorks created a staff position to focus on research and evaluation

2013 – Expanded the Friendly Visiting Program, going from one part-time dedicated staff person to two full-time program coordinators.

2013 – FriendshipWorks launched a vision and hearing impairment specialty

2013 – Initiated formal consultations to communities outside the Boston area to support the creation of interfaith volunteer caregiving programs

2014 – FriendshipWorks celebrates its 30th year

2015 – Opened a neighborhood office in Allston/Brighton, located within the Presentation School Foundation Community Center.

2015  Initiated MusicWorks, a pilot program launched in collaboration with Goddard House.

2016 – Successfully launched our first annual walk-a-thon: FriendshipWalks, raising close to $60,000

2016 – Opened a neighborhood office in the South End, located within Union United Methodist Church.

Coming in 2017 – Low-Vision: Will You Know it When You See it?, our first forum for professionals serving low-vision elders.