Spring 2018
Nine decades in the house her father built

With your support, more elders like Marion can stay connected to their community while aging in place.
“I’ve lived in this house just about all my life,” said Marion, age 95. “My father built it when I was about 2 and it cost him $700.” The home, situated in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood, is a Craftsman-style bungalow, complete with deep crown molding and twin built-in cabinets still in excellent condition.

“My parents left me the house because I stayed and took care of them,” she said. “I never married.”

As a child, Marion was painfully shy, “especially around boys.” In grade school, she preferred walking around the block rather than eating with her classmates in the lunchroom. She lived out her life as a dutiful daughter. After graduating from high school, to help with the family finances, Marion received training through the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency that operated in the late 1930s. She had a procession of jobs but nothing that really suited her. “The Catholic Digest was the best job, but the worst pay,” she recalled. She spent the majority of her working life as a switchboard operator with Northwestern Bell and other companies.
As predictable as her life became, Marion lunged impetuously into one memorable summer of rebellion in 1947. Taking advantage of an opportunity to travel west with a friend, she and her younger sister Lucille, nicknamed Ceilie, paid their share of the gas. After traveling through several states, they split from their friend and spent the next few months hitchhiking, seeing the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Manitou Springs, Hoover Dam, San Francisco and the missions of southern California. (See photo of Marion [l] and Celie [r] in San Francisco.)
“Ceilie and I paid our way by washing dishes and working in a laundry,” Marion recalled. “We were always scared that summer. We were lucky to be picked up by kind people, like the man and lady who brought us to Kings Canyon and fed us, but some of the truck drivers who gave us rides weren’t so nice. There were bears and cougars in the mountains. Still, we felt free! It’s the best time I ever had.”

As her parents grew older, Marion took on the role of caregiver. Her father passed away at the age of 70. “And my mother died at 87 – that was 30 years ago now,” she noted.
Marion admitted to feeling lonely, especially on Sundays. She enjoys talking to Ceilie on the phone and sometimes pays for service providers to come over just for the companionship. She doesn’t get around easily; confined to a wheelchair, she can be taken outside using her ramp, but busy Rice Street cuts her off from Tin Cup’s restaurant and Dollar Tree. She pays to have her groceries delivered, house maintained, lawn mowed and walk shoveled. “Crystal from the Block Nurse Program also checks in on me regularly,” she said.

Marion relies on LBFE to provide the friendship she craves and is matched with two Visiting Volunteers. “Kelly was here just the other day and she brought me those beautiful flowers,” she exclaimed, pointing to a vaseful of pink astroemeria. She also receives visits from Anna. “I love it when she brings along her two darling children,” Marion said. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, Marion receives home delivered meals with visits from LBFE.
With the sun pouring into her living room, Marion reflected on her life and acknowledged that she still has the ability to help others. “I can’t get around much, but I believe I influence people by talking to them. I can honestly say that I help people – that my life still makes a difference.”

You were right all along!
by James Falvey, Executive Director
Thanks to your support, Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly has been making an impact on the Twin Cities community since 1972. Throughout this time, our collective efforts to seek out lonely, socially isolated elders and bring the hope and joy of human companionship into their lives has been a mission that some found to be merely “nice” rather than important or necessary.
To these skeptics, our motto, “Flowers before Bread,” didn’t make much sense. The need for food surely must come before more superfluous wishes.
But you knew better. 
Not only did you recognize that human beings need more than just food and water to be whole, you stepped up and put your time, talent and treasure forward to live out the values that you hold.
Now our work is being validated around the world, from England creating a cabinet-level Minister of Loneliness to AARP Public Policy Institute’s groundbreaking study showing how social isolation in older adults adds significantly to the cost of Medicare. Our work, once thought of as “nice,” is now being seen as necessary by a growing number of people and organizations.
Much of this new recognition seems to be based on the World Health Organization’s work on the Social Determinants of Health. What the WHO found is that the healthcare we receive from doctors, nurses, hospitals and pharmaceuticals is a small component of our overall wellness, while social determinants such as social connectedness play a much bigger role.
To capitalize on this growing awareness, LBFE staff members have been working with Minnesota state legislators to create the Social Isolation Working Group. The working group will be comprised of numerous organizations whose goal is to develop and promote statewide solutions for those affected, including the isolated elder community that you have been supporting for years.
It is wonderful to see that a growing number of people are realizing what we have known all along: For people to be whole, friendship and companionship are every bit as important as food and shelter.
Because our community is growing more receptive to our mission, your ongoing support is more crucial than ever. Thank you very much for your volunteerism, donations and for spreading the word to others about the importance of our work.
"Seal of approval" adds value to your volunteer experience

At Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, volunteers have always been a valuable asset as we reach out to isolated elders in the community. In 2016, volunteers became even more critical to our impact. A key LBFE Strategic Goal – to increase our capacity to serve more elders - required that we rely primarily on volunteers to provide services for our elders.

To achieve this, we committed ourselves to ensuring that volunteers are integrated throughout our entire organization while also receiving a high level of training and support. By doing so, we will be better equipped to address the needs of the elder community.
Through the guidance of Community Impact Director Ann Fosco, LBFE entered into and completed Service Enterprise training, which included an extensive assessment, aggressive internal planning, plus many hours of training and consulting. We are pleased to announce that, in October, LBFE was nationally certified as a Service Enterprise by Points of Light, the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service . This is a status that only 15% of organizations nationwide have achieved!

Service Enterprise has provided an enhanced structure for our volunteer program, allowed us to codify and validate some of the practices we were already implementing and introduced new tools and practices. For example, one tool, the Return on Volunteer Investment (ROVI) worksheet, enables us to see how our added investments in volunteerism are already paying off. In less than a year, we have doubled our ROVI, showing a value of more than $2.00 in volunteer services for every dollar we spend.

Additional benefits following the training and certification process have included:
  • More effective engagement of skills-based volunteer leaders for programs such as Friendship and Flowers and holiday meals
  • Enhancements to volunteer orientation and regularly scheduled enrichment for existing volunteers
  • The development of a Volunteer Impact Task Force, which enlists the support of current volunteers in the areas of recruitment, retention and leadership, with the goal of creating a sustainable, volunteer-led service delivery infrastructure

In the coming months and years, LBFE will continue to leverage Service Enterprise training and tools to become more strategic in volunteer engagement, increase resources to support volunteers and better recognize volunteers as assets to our organization. It is only through our valued volunteers that we will inspire a community wide movement of neighbors helping neighbors, ensuring no elder feels isolated and alone, and every elder is valued and loved.
  • Bottles of wine
  • Gifts cards
  • Gift baskets
  • Hotel stays
  • Sports, concert or theater tickets
  • Other gift items

To donate items, email Ceallaigh Anderson Smart or call 612.746.0739 .

BUILDING COMMITTEE MEMBERS. A committee is being formed to explore options for improving LBFE’s working environment environment. We are looking for people with experience in commercial real estate, design/build construction, commercial lending, corporate relocation, office design and project management who will be willing to take on this limited-time project.

If interested, email James Falvey or call 612.746.0742.
Preteen inspires with 'friendship is ageless' mission
Media such as videos, movies and television shows sometimes project a stereotype of preteen girls that isn’t very flattering. For example, they portray girls who avoid spending time with parents – if not all adults – and whose worldview revolves around the friends in their immediate circle.

But meet Piper Blanch, an 11-year-old who is focused on serving others. Fortunately for LBFE, she’s turned that focus on serving elders in our community. 

When Piper’s mom, Brandy, became a Friendship and Flowers volunteer last November, Piper was intrigued and accompanied her to orientation. While there, she learned that many elders go months without human contact. “When she left,” recalled Ann Fosco, Community Impact Director, “a fire was ignited. She wanted to make sure all elders felt loved and cared about.”

According to Piper, volunteering “sounded like fun. So I started going with my mom when she visited nursing homes. When you get older, you don’t do as much and people don’t visit you much. We bring flowers, puzzles and cookies and it brightens their day.”

“She loved it immediately,” recalled Brandy, “but I insisted she show me she’s absolutely committed and wouldn’t let her elders down. We missed our January delivery because we were out of town. Piper was bummed! I knew then her heart was in it.”

Piper is now rallying friends and family to join a group she formed called Friendship Is Ageless . “We have lots of kids who volunteer for LBFE,” Ann said. “But, so far, Piper is the only one intent on forming a nonprofit agency.” Her group currently includes Grandma and Mom making fleece tie blankets. “Lots of my friends want to get involved; some are donating fleece. Some are crocheting blankets,” Piper explained.
When Piper isn’t going to school and organizing groups serving the elderly, she’s contributing to the Special Olympics, the Toy Corner, Feed My Starving Children, Project Prom and ROCK (Reaching Our Community Kids).

She also competes in pageants, including Miss American Coed, Miss Minnesota Sweetheart, International Junior Miss, Miss PreTeen Minnesota, National American Miss Minnesota Pre-Teen (4 th runner-up) and several smaller pageants.

While these pageants help her gain poise and confidence, she uses them to promote volunteerism. “People pay attention if you have a title,” she explains. “So I’ll emphasize Friendship Is Ageless , volunteering is for everybody, and it’s fun to connect people with different ages.”

While Piper’s commitment is atypical for her age, her other interests are more characteristic of an 11-year-old: horseback riding, wrestling (yes, she’s a wrestler!), baking and arts and crafts. 

“Piper is incredible!” observed Ann. “We know she will make a big impact on her community for years to come.”

Kathleen Lindstrom, contributing editor
It's our hope that the recent changes to the tax law will have little impact on your donations to Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly and your other favorite charities. Tax season, though, is a good opportunity to examine how your continued support can best benefit both you and the elders served by LBFE. Here are some considerations:

  • Remember why you donate to LBFE. Do you recall the first time you gave? You likely were touched by a story about a lonely elder who found comfort and a sense of belonging that was life-changing. Or perhaps a friend or loved one you trusted asked you to support LBFE. Stay true to your commitment to your charitable giving whether you choose to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction.
  • Make a yearlong plan for giving. If you choose not to itemize, there is little reason to wait until year’s end to make your donations. Here’s your chance to be more deliberate in your giving. Begin by looking at your budget and how much you gave in previous years, including during year-end appeals. Then spread that amount evenly with monthly giving. To make it even easier, set up automatic deductions from your checking account.
  • Review your paystubs from before and after the tax law changes. If you have an increase in your take-home pay, consider putting a portion toward charitable giving through payroll deduction.
  • Non-itemizers may deduct a portion of contributions on your Minnesota state returns. If you live in and pay taxes in Minnesota and do not itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you may be able to deduct 50% of total charitable contributions exceeding $500. For married couples who file separately, each spouse making at least $500 in contributions can claim a deduction on the additional amount on their return. Consult your tax advisor for details regarding your situation.

While tax laws may have changed, the issue of elder isolation in our community is as critical as ever. It is only through your ongoing support that older adults will continue to find hope and a sense of well-being.

For more information about giving options, visit littlebrothersmn.org/donate.aspx.
Recent grants awarded
Our heartfelt thanks are offered to the following organizations that have awarded grants or gifts to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly from July 1 through December 31, 2017. Grants support general operations unless noted otherwise.

Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
Elmer L. and Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation
Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation
Bergerson Family Foundation
Burdick Family Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation
Charity Incorporated
The Cliff Foundation, a Donor Advised Fund of Renaissance Charitable Foundation
Paul and Patricia Curran Foundation
Hardenbergh Foundation
Julie C. and William R. Howard Charitable Fund
IWJ Charitable Foundation
Margaret H. and James E. Kelley Foundation Inc.
Leonette M. and Fred T. Lanners Foundation
Jane E. Malless
Onan Family Foundation
The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota
The Elizabeth C. Quinlan Foundation, Inc.
Margaret Rivers Fund
Summer Fund
David J. Sutton Gift Fund
Target Foundation
James R. Thorpe Foundation
Tita Family Charitable Gift Fund
Voelbel Family Fund of the Twin Cities Christian Foundation
Wege Foundation
The annual report with list of donors for LBFE's fiscal year 2017 is now available online. As a cost-saving measure, a limited number of the report was printed. To request a print version, please contact us at mhaas@littlebrothersmn.org or 612.721.1400.
Gifts galore!
The American Lung Association donated a carload of gifts – from cozy blankets and stuffed animals to toiletries and delicious chocolates – for our elder friends. Because of their generosity, elders who otherwise would not have had any gift under their tree had a much happier holiday.
Christmas Eve
More than 120 isolated elders received a turkey and ham dinner with all the trimmings prepared at the Envision Event Center in Oakdale. Elders who joined us at Envision were surrounded by caring volunteer escorts. Homebound elders received a delivered meal from volunteers along with flowers and friendly conversation. A total of 204 volunteers, as well as our generous donor community, made the joyful event a possibility.
VAN forum
In January, LBFE’s James Falvey and Dr. Bruce McBeath, practicing psychologist, were guest speakers at a forum by Vital Aging Network (VAN), "Social connections: an antidote to loneliness and isolation." The forum, held at the Ramsey County Library – Roseville, addressed the psychological issues of loneliness and the need for a community-wide response.
Donor appreciation gathering
Board member Bob Lawson and his wife, Nan Lu, graciously opened their home to some of LBFE’s most ardent supporters in February. The wine and cheese gathering celebrated the progress LBFE has made on behalf of isolated elders while also giving supporters an opportunity to discuss future initiatives. 
1845 East Lake Street 
Minneapolis, MN 55407 
Phone: 612.721.1400 
Fax: 612.721.5848