Push for Residents to Join Elderly Support Group

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September 24, 2014 — State Representative Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) is encouraging Lake County residents to volunteer for a group that has a special outreach to the elderly.

The not-for-profit Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) coordinates visits by volunteers to senior citizens who have little contact with other people.

“The group has an interesting and uplifting philosophy,” said Dr. Smith. “The motto is ‘flowers before bread’ which means that people need life’s pleasures in addition to basic necessities. The focus is helping the elderly, especially those who are alone. The idea is for these elders to realize that other people do love them, that the seniors have dignity and respect, and that every person should find beauty in life. The belief is that these qualities are as basic as physical needs and I absolutely agree.”

Dr. Smith said there will be an orientation for LBFE volunteers, 18 years or older, on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m.-noon inside the Lake County Public Library, 1919 W. 81st Ave., Merrillville.

LBFE, Indiana is modeled on the successful LBFE, Chicago Chapter, which provided services to more than 1,349 isolated elderly last year.

LBFE has two programs. One is the Visiting Program which connects volunteers with the elderly in their homes so that new friendships can develop. The other program, called Celebrations of Life, plans and holds parties and other events in the community. All of the activities are free to the “elder guests.”

The organization focuses on women and men, 70 years or older, who have two or fewer meaningful, personal contacts in a month. LBFE is looking for participants, both elders and volunteers, in Gary, Miller Beach, Crown Point, Hammond, and Schererville. In particular, the group hopes to attract visiting volunteers, phone visitors, drivers, and people who can assist with on-site parties and in-home celebrations as well as with special projects.

LBFE receives its funding from individuals, corporations and foundations.

Since the organization hosted its first event in Indiana three years ago, 10 events, including ice cream socials and a winter carnival, have been held. In addition, the organization has welcomed 300 elder guests. LBFE has partnered with the Linden House, the Gary Community Health Foundation, the Gary Public Library, and the Gary Housing Authority.

Dr. Smith said additional information may be obtained by contacting LBFE Expansion Program Coordinator Jacqueline Townsend at 219-736-5233 or at jtownsend@littlebrotherschicago.org.

Source: Office of Vernon Smith

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