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The gift of a holiday meal, companionship and dignity for nearly 1,300 lonely seniors

December 20, 2016

The holiday season can be particularly challenging for seniors who no longer have anyone in their life to share it with. Being alone at this otherwise joyful time of year can be a heavy burden to bear. But Little Brothers is dedicated to lighting up the lives of Elder Friends, with an extra helping of warmth and kindness on December 24 and 25.

 

One out of five seniors in Quebec has nobody to spend the holidays with

“Some of our Elder Friends tell us that Little Brothers arrived just in time to make life worth living again. Before us, they were so alone and miserable they felt like they wanted to die.” explains Caroline Sauriol, Executive Director of Little Brothers.

Social isolation has an impact on almost every aspect of an individual’s health. Outcomes include an increased risk of heart disease, cognitive impairment, depression and even premature death.

For thousands of elderly Quebecers, loneliness is an all-too-familiar reality during the holidays, with no family get-togethers to enjoy, no visitors to chat with and not even a phone call to lift their spirits. “It can be difficult to imagine yourself in this kind of situation when you’re still leading an active, healthy life, with lots of friends and relatives around you, but it can happen to anyone,” added Ms. Sauriol.

photo-communique-noel_mme-delisi-et-fabyola

“I’m 97 years old. I was blessed with a wonderful family and friends all my life. I had a good husband, but we weren’t able to have children. Everyone from my generation is now gone. In the space of a year, I lost my husband, my brother and my sister. And my nephews live too far away now to come visit me. Last year, I took a fall, which kept me from going to the Little Brothers Christmas party. But my volunteer companion came to see me instead, and we shared a special meal together.” Mrs. Delisi, Elder Friend, with her volunteer companion, Fabyola Stiven.

 

500+ home and hospital visits
On December 24, starting at 10 a.m., swarms of volunteers will be dispatched from Little Brothers’ facilities in several cities across the province, including Montreal, Sherbrooke and Quebec City, with a gift in hand and a meal they can share with an Elder Friend. Hundreds more will follow in their footsteps in 11 other regions throughout the province. Every year, Little Brothers volunteers bring joy and comfort into the lives of vulnerable seniors through over 14,000 one-on-one visits.

 

A traditional Christmas dinner for close to 800 guests on December 25
For the 31st year in a row, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal will welcome and serve a festive dinner to 450 Elder Friends on Christmas Day, starting at 10:30 a.m. Francine Charbonneau, the Quebec minister responsible for seniors, and Denis Coderre, mayor of Montreal, will drop by to deliver their personal greetings to Elder Friends and their guests. Entertainer Béatrice Picard, the organization’s provincial patron, will also be on hand for the celebration. “I’ve been very lucky in life. I have a beautiful family and a teeming circle of friends. So it’s only natural to give back to the people who helped build our society but who feel like they’ve been forgotten now.” Other receptions will be held in Laval, Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Longueuil, Rimouski, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Saint-Eustache, Thetford Mines and Terrebonne.

 

Close to 1,300 lonely seniors have found a forever family in Little Brothers, thanks in large part to the generosity of individual donors
Companionship is often the what lonely seniors say they miss the most – it’s a sad truth that Little Brothers encounters every single day. The organization is grateful to donors and volunteers who step up to make a tangible difference in the lives of lonely seniors by supporting its efforts in communities across the province.

Fuelled by public support, Little Brothers has virtually doubled the number of Elder Friends it has reached out to in the past five years. But an aging population and changing family dynamics mean the need for Little Brothers’ services is constantly on the rise, making it difficult to keep up with demand. Ongoing contributions are essential to fulfilling Little Brothers’ mission and changing the lives of more and more seniors in need.

 

About Little Brothers
For 54 years, Little Brothers has welcomed and provided support to lonely elders by creating a caring, committed extended family around them, dedicated to alleviating their isolation and staying by their side throughout their remaining years. All Little Brothers programs are free for Elder Friends and are adapted to meet individual needs and embrace a personalized approach.

 

Little Brothers is accredited by the Imagine Canada National Standards Program for excellence and compliance in nonprofit accountability, transparency and governance.

 

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Source and interviews with Caroline Sauriol and Béatrice Picard: Roxanne Tremblay, Project Manager – Communications, Little Brothers, 514 919-7231, rtremblay@littlebrothers.ca

 

 

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