The personal support program is the core of the Little Brothers programs and is a key to providing social and emotional support. Volunteers usually start off by visiting an elder for a holiday, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. They then can be assigned on a one-to-one basis with the elder and offer help in whatever ways they can. In one such friendship, the volunteer helps with grocery shopping and the old friend teaches the volunteer about art.
When weather emergencies occur, Little Brothers contacts every old friend to make sure they are safe. Whether it is a snowstorm, below freezing temperatures or the scorching heat of the summer, we make sure that our old friends know that we are here to help them.
The simple act of a telephone call means a lot to an elderly person who sits alone every day without anyone to talk to. Volunteers also make birthday visits, bringing small gifts and flowers. Other volunteers make and send out birthday cards each month. Little Brothers receives many thank you calls and notes from its old friends because the visits and cards are often the only birthday remembrance they receive.
When a new old friend is found, a personal visit is made to assess the degree of isolation and the need for aging services. The most isolated are incorporated into the Little Brothers core group and those needing services are referred to the appropriate agencies
The holiday season is often the loneliest time of the year for people who have lost family and friends. Little Brothers provides a Thanksgiving visit and a traditional holiday meal for its old friends. At Christmas, Little Brothers provides a volunteer with a fruit basket, a plant and a gift, to share the joy of the giving season, and for Easter we deliver a plant, and sugar free candy. Without these visits, our “Old Friends” might well spend the holiday alone.
Because isolated elderly are at high risk for depression, Little Brothers conducts a survey to identify those elderly at risk for mental health problems. Little Brothers refers those identified to mental health agencies for diagnosis and treatment.