105 Chauncy St. Suite 801, Boston, MA 02111 friend@fw4elders.org 617-482-1510

Friend of the Month September 2017

Danny has been a FriendshipWorks volunteer for almost 7 months!

Question: What do you and your match like to do during your meetings?
Danny: Every Sunday, I spend the first hour in the dining hall of St. Helena’s House reading mail for the Chinese-speaking elders of the complex. A good half of it is spam, but the other half comprises bills, letters from government assistance programs that require a response, and health insurance information. The next hour I accompany my match while we walk around the neighborhood.

Question: What have you learned from your match and what have they learned from you?
Danny: Through my interactions with the many elders at St. Helena’s House, I have been able to learn a lot about their early life back in their home country, which is China for most of them. We are able to relate through our shared culture and customs.

Question: What is your most memorable experience as a volunteer?
Danny: One elder takes interest in learning random English words through her mail. I don’t know when she’ll ever use them, but now she knows the words for “democratic” and “lawyer.”

Question: Why do you volunteer with FriendshipWorks?
Danny: I volunteer with FriendshipWorks because my grandpa is lucky to have me as his own helper but other elders might not have the same fortune. Furthermore, I am able to use my language skills in assisting the otherwise menial task of going through mail.

Friend of the Month August 2017!

Elena and Bettie have been matched for over a year!

Question: What do you and your match like to do during your meetings?
Elena: “Bettie and I like to watch the news and crime shows while talking about what’s going on in the world and in our lives. We share our experiences and our day-to-day activities every week. We don’t usually leave Bettie’s apartment but we always have a wonderful time just talking and keeping each other company.”

Question:  What have you learned from your match and what have they learned from you?
Elena:As a lifelong resident of Roxbury, Bettie is an invaluable resource for all things Boston, past and present. We’ve talked about how politics and the world has changed and I’ve learned so much from her perspective. From me I think Bettie’s learned that while many things have changed since she was my age, there is so much about the world and people that’s stayed the same.”

Question: What is your most memorable experience as a volunteer?
Elena:My favorite experience with Bettie so far was introducing her to my parents when they visited for the weekend. We went to my favorite restaurant in the South End and had a fantastic meal the four of us. It was essential to me that my parents got to meet Bettie, and for Bettie to know how much she means to me.”

Question: What future activities are you looking forward to doing with your match?
Elena:When it gets a little cooler outside as Fall approaches, we plan to take walks around the neighborhood. I also have been planning to cook a homemade pasta dinner for her with my boyfriend so she can learn a new recipe.”

Question: Why do you volunteer with FriendshipWorks?
Elena:I started volunteering with FriendshipWorks as a favor to my friend who was previously matched with Bettie when she was studying abroad. We really clicked and I’ve seen her every week or so since. I’ve continued volunteering because it brings me such joy to know that spending time with Bettie makes her happy and gives her something to look forward to.”

Any additional comments you have?
Elena:I’d like to thank all of the people at FriendshipWorks and all of the volunteers who make this program possible. The work we do is so important to the elder community and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Friend of the Month July 2017!

Gloria has been a volunteer for a year!

Question: Why do you volunteer for the medical escort program?
Gloria: “It is something that I really look forward to doing… I like helping people in general. There will come a time in your life when you will need help. You will find yourself in the same situation as some of these people. In time it will return back to you. Then you will say, ‘It is a good thing I helped people.’  You won’t feel guilty because you have already done your service.”

Question: What have you learned from your experiences?
Gloria: “There are so many things you learn as you go with these different patients. Some of these people don’t have anybody, they live alone. I remember one woman with terrible arthritis in her hands. You wonder how she could button up her shirts or eat her food.

But these people, even though they are in tough positions, they are so happy. Life goes on. I wonder, would I be such a cheerful person if I was in the same position? I have learned that a person can be content even though they are in a difficult position. They have jokes too, they make you laugh!”

Question: What is your most memorable experience as a volunteer?
Gloria: “There is one I am going to remember for a long time.

I went to an appointment with a woman in Brighton, but we didn’t know that the transportation had dropped us off at the wrong address. We went office to office, but no one knew where her doctor was. Finally, a woman at the front desk said the doctor was actually at a different address! It was near us, but up a big steep hill. The woman couldn’t walk there – she used a cane – and it was getting too late to call the ride back, so I borrowed a wheelchair and pushed her. It was the summer time and it was hot! And the hill was steep! I was terrified of letting go. But we made jokes and laughed all the way. We were having a wonderful time. She was just in time for the appointment. Just in time! We had fun! That saved the day. That was a remarkable experience for me.”

Question: What are your favorite hobbies?
Gloria: “My favorite hobby I will tell you is traveling. I love traveling! Lord. do I love to travel! I’m going to Israel in the fall with my church. And I love my plants. And I love church! On Sunday I go to 3 or 4 different churches; from the Catholic Church to the Salvation Army to the Methodist Church. I like to spend Sunday in the house of God.”

Question: There are a few people I can think of whom you have formed friendships with after escorting them. Can you tell me more about the relationships you’ve formed?
Gloria: “I make friends with everyone I go on escorts with! They always want me to take them to their next appointment. It is a great experience and you make friends.”

A Volunteer’s Story

“I am currently a volunteer in the Friendly Visiting Program. I visit an elder who at face value does not seem lonely. Her daughter and grandchildren live upstairs in her duplex home and she lives with her husband. She has other family that comes to visit on holidays and she has friendly neighbors. However, she also has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and due to this condition she cannot leave the house alone. For whatever reasons, her family is too nervous, scared, or inconvenienced to take her out of the house with her oxygen tank. I will admit at first I was nervous too! But she is a fiercely independent lady and can handle it with ease.Since her loneliness/isolation stems from being homebound, we meet about every other week to go out and get breakfast. We go to IHOP and I get to hear her amazing stories such as when she first moved to Boston from Ireland, how she first met her husband, about her large family and which siblings decided to emigrate to the US or Canada. She often apologizes at the end of our meetings, saying,” You didn’t get a word in edgewise.”  I am a chatty person but with her all I want to do is listen. Often, her family members have heard these stories and may take them for granted, but for me they are new, interesting, and very engaging. We often stay at IHOP a full 2 hours taking advantage of the free flowing coffee.

It is nice to know that when I drop her back off at home she is not completely alone. But I also see the real difference our meetings make. There have been times when, due to her health issues, we have not seen one another for a month or two and we miss each other terribly. I feel very lucky to have a friend like her, and I think the feeling is mutual.”

– A FriendshipWorks Volunteer

Friend of the Month!

Leah and Joe have been matched for over two years!

Question: What are your favorite thing(s) to do together?
Leah: “We write together (I also helped Joe edit his second book of poetry), read, go to concerts, and just talk! I love hearing about Joe’s incredible 100 years of life from his childhood in Brooklyn, to his World War II service, to his participation in the desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Question: What is something each of you has learned from the other?
Leah: “I have learned so much from Joe! I have learned about life and have received a classical music education from a man for whom music is life. Joe says he has learned from me lessons about steadiness and persistence. He appreciates how I am fully present when we listen to music or write together.”

Question: Are there any future visits or activities you have planned that you are looking forward to?
Leah: “Really looking forward to Joe’s 100th birthday party in July and his second book of poetry being published!”