MORE THAN 50% OF OUR ELDER FRIENDS ARE PAIRED WITH A VOLUNTEER.
15,000+ VISITS EVERY YEAR
“I love having you as my friend. I love that we can laugh about the little things in life together, that we can chat and share our experiences – from the smallest frustrations to the biggest joys.”
— Mrs. Provencal, Elder Friend, in a message to her volunteer companion, Pauline Ferland
The Little Brothers long-term pairing program is one of the most effective solutions against solitude and loneliness. Through it, we reach out and connect with our Elder Friends, one by one.
FLEXIBLE… AND LIFE-CHANGING!
Long-term pairing is the most flexible volunteering formula we offer at Little Brothers. As a volunteer companion, you can arrange to see your Elder Friend every two weeks, at a time that fits into your schedule. In terms of total commitment, this works out to about four hours a month.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON ELDER FRIENDS?
For thousands of seniors across the province, their inner circle of family and friends has dwindled, even vanished, over the years, leaving them alone and, they fear, forgotten. The feelings of isolation they suffer as a result can be as harmful to their health as alcohol abuse. All too often, this leads to despair, depression… and even suicide.
Pairing is the best way to alleviate social isolation among seniors… for good.
Through this program, we can show our Elder Friends that they are important to someone – someone who is happy to spend time with them and take an interest in their life. Through home visits, phone calls, activities and thoughtful gestures of all kinds, you can make a world of difference. Just imagine what this attention means to a senior who is otherwise alone.
All it takes is one special person in your life to make you feel like you matter. You can be that person for our Elder Friends!
WHY SIGN UP FOR OUR PAIRING PROGRAM?
Being a volunteer companion for an Elder Friend means:
- Giving back to the community at a time that is convenient to you and a place that is handy to your home or work (approximately four hours a month in total)
- Being that person who makes a difference in the life of a lonely senior
- Developing an intergenerational friendship that is heartfelt and sincere
- Enjoying life-affirming moments of pure joy
- Accompanying someone on a fundamentally human journey and learning more about yourself and your own strengths through your relationship with your Elder Friend
- Forging lasting, meaningful bonds within an extended family and enjoying a steadfast source of support.
“I am always proud to talk about my experiences with Little Brothers. What we do is important. It’s impossible to fathom how sad and alone these isolated seniors are without us.”
Read more about Monique Bisson’s decade-long stint as a volunteer companion in our Sherbrooke chapter.
SUPPORT FROM A DEVOTED TEAM
As a volunteer companion, you can rest assured knowing our counsellors and coordinators always have your back. We will be there for you every step of the way, to listen to your concerns, provide you with multiple training opportunities and give you advice to help you make the most of your relationship with your Elder Friend.
You are not in this by yourself. We will provide you with all the support you need. We are keenly aware that our family would not be as large as it is without our volunteer companions: you are our lifeblood, our “boots on the ground” and an invaluable resource to our staff.
- Volunteers go through screening, orientation and training and are then matched with an Elder Friend based on their respective profiles.
- The Elder Friend usually lives close to the volunteer’s home or work for maximum ease and convenience.
- Volunteers are required to visit with their Elder Friend every two weeks or more frequently. They are also asked to check in by phone or another means on a weekly basis. The total monthly commitment works out to about four hours.
- The importance of stability is impressed upon volunteers, who are asked to maintain a long-term relationship wherever possible to avoid subjecting Elder Friends to repeated separations and re-pairings. Although the exact length can and does vary, a one-year commitment is required to start.
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO A SUCCESSFUL PAIRING?
After half a century of bringing seniors and volunteers together, we have some unique insights into how to make each match as effective as possible. Here are some guidelines to help you in this regard:
- Always keep your word. This is essential to developing trust in your relationship with your Elder Friend.
- Avoid overextending yourself. You don’t want to create unrealistic expectations in your Elder Friend’s mind.
- Respect your Elder Friend’s limits and your own. That way, you will strike and maintain a much-needed sense of balance.
- Make mutual respect and open-mindedness the foundations of your friendship.
- Actively listen to your Elder Friend to make sure you are in tune with their needs.
- Stay in regular contact with the Little Brothers team and other volunteers in order to constantly renew your ideas and your energy.
- Seek out support and advice from the Little Brothers team if a problem arises. You are not alone in this relationship: we are committed to serving your Elder Friend, too!
“You’re so sweet, so thoughtful and so considerate. I love you from the bottom of my heart. Every time you come to visit, you give me your undivided attention. You’re just like a son to me.”
— Mrs. Routhier-Guay, in a message to her volunteer companion, Daniel Landry
Several pairing options are available under this program:
- Classic – Volunteers establish a personal, one-on-one relationship with an Elder Friend through regular home visits.
- Duo – Two individuals (e.g., a couple, two friends or two Little Brothers volunteers) take turns visiting with an Elder Friend – for a double dose of caring and companionship!
- Family – Members from the same family pledge to make frequent visits to an Elder Friend, together or in turns, and even include them in family get-togethers. A guaranteed intergenerational connection!
- Phone a Friend – Some Elder Friends may not feel comfortable with the idea of a home visit. So our volunteers check in once a week (or more often) by phone to touch base. A familiar voice on the other end of the line can mean so much.