Bob Garrett and Bobbi Hanson are regulars at Culver’s every other Friday. The hostess watches as they arrive and quickly readies Bobbi’s fish sandwich just the way she likes it and pours her coffee. The two friends then settle comfortably into a booth and begin the bimonthly adventure they both relish.
“We never run out of things to talk about,” Bob said. They have much to share, drawing from Bobbi’s 85 years and Bob’s 75 years on this planet. Being relatively close in age, they have a mutual appreciation of music. “I love the jazz greats,” Bobbi said. “King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton, Miles Davis. But when I first heard Duke Ellington, that spoiled everything else. Music was never the same.”
Blind since the age of 6, Bobbi developed a keen ear for music and plays the organ and accordion. For 12 years she rebuilt and tuned organs, and still retains a love of their rich, all-encompassing sound. She and Bob occasionally drop in at the Heights Theater when it runs classic silent films. Bobbi sits in the front row, mesmerized by the 15-20 minute overture and accompaniment. “It’s too loud for me so I just sit in the back and watch the movie,” Bob laughed.
Bob was matched as a Visiting Volunteer with Bobbi in 2012. Bobbi is also visited by another caring LBFE volunteer, Bhavik Patel, and she attends events including holiday meals, bingo and LBFE’s monthly Let’s Do Lunch Café for LGBTQ elders.
“I was referred to LBFE after my mother died 13 years ago,” Bobbi said. She lived with her mother for the final six years of her life, caring for her through her mother’s issues with dementia.
Bob and Bobbi are both transplants to the Twin Cities. “My dad was in the Air Force so we moved often,” Bob said. He, too, joined the service and afterward moved to the Twin Cities and was hired by an insurance company as a title abstractor; he retired in 1998.
Bobbi was raised in Kasota, Minn., and then moved to Winona before landing in Minneapolis. “I worked for many years for Northwestern Bell as an intercept circuit specialist and stayed with them as they transitioned to US West,” which eventually became Qwest, then CenturyLink. “They were good to me,” she attested.
A year ago, Bobbi was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, causing her to slow down somewhat. Still, she cherishes her ability to get out and visit with Bob. “If it weren’t for Bob, I’d really be alone. I’d have to move to a facility,” she said.
Bob, too, is thankful for their time together. “I don’t often verbalize it, but Bobbi’s brought so much into my life.”
BRING JOY AS A VISITING VOLUNTEER!
People tell us time and again how much their lives are enriched by volunteering with elders!
It’s widely held that our community is heading for a crisis when it comes to our expanding population of older Americans. The Baby Boomers are coming into retirement and our housing, transportation and human service systems are not set up to support this growing population effectively.
We also know that too few Americans have adequately saved for retirement and the cost of nursing care continues to grow faster than the rate of inflation.
One of the emerging solutions is the idea of “aging in place.” This is a popular concept because the vast majority of people polled have expressed a strong preference to stay in their homes versus the higher cost of moving to retirement communities or nursing care.
This idea can work well … if people have the social and physical support to keep them socially engaged and to help with activities no longer supported due to physical decline.
None of us can accurately predict which, if any, of our family and friends will be available to support us as we age. Any one of us could become part of the sizable percentage of older adults aging in place without the support needed to age well.
For those, aging in place could become a very lonely and isolated experience. In fact, it’s estimated that in the year 2020 (just two and a half years from now!), there could be as many as 50,000 older adults in the Twin Cities who are living alone and who lack the social support needed to be healthy and happy.
Even though there is overwhelming scientific evidence showing the negative physical and mental health effects of isolation, currently there are no significant government programs and too few major foundations funding this important work.
This is why we need your help. You can play a powerful role in helping us build a community-wide movement of neighbors helping neighbors, ensuring no one in our community feels isolated and alone. Join with us as a volunteer and help us recruit more volunteers. Donate and help us find like-minded friends to donate as well. Refer to us those elders in your neighborhood who are lonely and alone so that our volunteers can bring hope and joy into their lives.
As we bring these gifts forward, we will see that we are all getting much more in return than we could ever give in the first place.
Thank you for being a part of this important movement.
Holiday dinner volunteer opportunities now available!
LBFE is once again serving Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve Day dinners for our elders and we’re extending an invitation for you to join us! We have many volunteer opportunities available on a first come, first serve basis. Opportunities include kitchen assistance; set-up, serve and clean-up; elder escort and driving; meal delivery; greeting and more.
We’re excited to have volunteer Marcie Spears coordinating this year’s holiday planning. You can join our holiday volunteer team, too. The sooner you log on, the more volunteer slots are available.
Reserve your spot now!
SHARE YOUR MARKETING SKILLS!
LBFE is looking for talented volunteers to help us spread our message in new and exciting areas. Whether you’re looking to jump-start your career, add more creativity to your week or keep your skills fresh post-retirement, we’d love to hear from you! Volunteer assistance is needed in the following areas:
Board members ignite support through personal networks
Bob Lawson’s life-changing moment happened less than one year ago.
“I had always been aware of the needs of isolated seniors,” Bob reflected. “But when I attended LBFE’s Thanksgiving Dinner last November and saw the elders coming off the Metro Mobility bus alone, I knew I wanted to be a part of this community.”
Bob’s epiphany led him to sign up for a volunteer orientation, and soon after was matched with an elder friend, Fran. Within a few months, Bob began to attend additional orientations to share his personal experiences as a volunteer; he has recently agreed to assist in facilitating them on occasion. All of this is in addition to his being voted onto LBFE’s Board of Directors in February.
Bob’s advocacy extends beyond his volunteer work. He invited his personal friends to fill a table at LBFE’s Friends for Life benefit last spring. He has placed recruiting posts on Facebook and Nextdoor and listed his LBFE association on LinkedIn. And, as principal of his firm Barrington Capital Management, Inc., he strategizes ways to leverage his networks. “I’m reaching out to local foundations, my VIP vendors and local businesses in an attempt to recruit new corporate sponsors and donors and bring greater awareness to LBFE,” he said.
Board Treasurer Joe Bostrom was drawn to LBFE through his relationship with his grandmother. “She’s 99 with a strong network of family who visit her regularly,” Joe said. “Five grown children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren – even great-great grandkids now! But she still feels lonely. ‘I know how busy you are,’ she’ll say. That makes me feel for those who don’t have anyone around.”
Joe recently posted a heartfelt testimonial on his neighborhood’s Nextdoor site, sharing that 50 LBFE elders are waiting to be matched with a Visiting Volunteer. Within a matter of hours Joe received 60 thank-you’s and comments from his neighbors expressing their concern and interest in volunteering. By the next day, LBFE had received eight completed online volunteer applications as a result. “I had put up the post just to see if something would happen. When [staff member] Georgia Afton told me about all the applications, I was pretty surprised.”
For Joe, keeping isolated elders connected is a community effort that is building momentum. “We can all make an impact if we just chip in and do our part,” he said. “Thanks to our supporters and volunteers, LBFE has made some significant inroads over the past year and we’re on a great path. I’m proud to be a part of a really premier nonprofit.”
WELCOME TO NEW STAFF MEMBERS
Ceallaigh (pronounced Kelly) joined LBFE as the Development Manager on Sept. 1, having worked with nonprofits for 15 years in various roles. She lives in Robbinsdale with her husband, two children and dog.
Delorse has been LBFE's Office Assistant since May through Eastside Neighborhood Services’ Community Employment Project. Her smile and genuine joyfulness greet you when you walk through our doors.
Interns bring new ideas and energy in 2017/2018
Gregorio Gomez, Program Intern
Madeline Kohls, Program Intern
Latasha Stanifer, Program Intern
Michael Valverde, Office Intern
Remembering our friends
The following Elder Friends were remembered at our February and August memorial services. Our next memorial service is Monday, November 20, 4-5 p.m. at 1845 East Lake Street in Minneapolis. We encourage anyone whose life has been touched by an elder to attend our memorial services. Feel free to bring any photos or memories to share. Please contact Sandy O’Donnell if you would like to attend.
merci to our dedicated volunteers with an evening of appreciation on April 27. Guests sampled select wines and cheeses from France – the birthplace of LBFE – and Minnesota, home of the best volunteers! It was a fun way to thank our many volunteers – from volunteer visitors to behind-the-scenes workers – for bringing so much joy into the lives of our elder friends.
Friends for Life Breakfast
The May 11th fundraiser was an opportunity to introduce LBFE to new friends and get reacquainted with longtime supporters. Will Phillips, AARP State Director, spoke about the challenges facing isolated elders in our communities and how LBFE is vital to providing them with critical connections. More than 100 friends joined us in the River Room at the Town & Country Club to hear elders and volunteers share their inspiring stories.
Summer Sizzle Celebration
Elder Friends and their Visiting Volunteers came together on June 17 to kick off summer with a barbecue. The Community Room was transformed into a day at the beach with sand bucket centerpieces, live music, bubbles, kazoos and tropical fish. Guests enjoyed ribs and chicken, fished for prizes in the "fish pond," and each volunteer/elder couple had keepsake photos taken together.