MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) today is announcing it received a $125,000 grant from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life) to support the organization's Elder Friends Phone Companions program, which matches elders with background-checked volunteers ready to share on-going friendships by phone during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The grant is part of Allianz Life's $1 million senior services grant to address long-term disparities in senior care and support in the Twin Cities, and combat the risks being faced by seniors in our community. These are exacerbated by COVID-19 – particularly among diverse seniors. The program will focus on three critical risks: combating social isolation, fighting elder financial abuse, and enhancing caregiver support. "Allianz Life's grant to LBFE is a wonderful demonstration of confidence in our organization and our Phone Companions program," said James Falvey, LBFE executive director. "It is enabling us to reach more socially isolated and lonely older adults with the power of friendship during this disturbing time."
LBFE launched Elder Friends Phone Companions statewide in April 2020 following the COVID-19 social restrictions and community lockdowns to protect older adults from the virus. The program was designed to quickly pair volunteers and older adults and is free and open to anyone in Minnesota feeling particularly alone and isolated during this pandemic. Registering is simple, either by email, online, or by phone. Every volunteer Phone Companion has successfully completed a background check, and only essential information is exchanged.
"As this pandemic persists, so does the risk of social isolation for older adults locked behind the doors of nursing homes, assisted living centers, public housing, and single-family homes," Falvey said. "This Allianz Life grant will help LBFE reach passed the locked doors and across the physical distance to bring comfort and companionship through our Elder Friends Phone Companions program."
The Phone Companions program has become a vital link for older adults feeling more isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. "When the virus first hit, our building completely shut down and I began feeling very sad and isolated," said Terry Doyle, Elder Friends Phone Companions participant and long-time LBFE member. "My companions from Little Brothers have kept my spirits up and helped me realize that I can take a bad situation and do positive things. Now I sew face masks and facilitate phone discussions for other elders experiencing the feelings I have."
Since 1972, LBFE's sole mission has been to alleviate loneliness and isolation through meaningful relationships between older adults and volunteers. COVID-19 challenged LBFE to quickly develop a new online matching program that facilitated telephone friendships and expanded its geographical reach to the entire state. Elder Friends Phone Companions will continue to be a source of hope and support for any isolated adult during this crisis and beyond.
Sign up online: https://www.littlebrothersmn.org/phone-companions/
Sign up by email: [email protected]
Sign up by phone: 612-746-0737
Contact: Mike Weiner
SOURCE Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly