Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly is a national network of non-profit volunteer-based organizations committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We offer to people of goodwill the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life.
What We Do
Today, LBFE has chapters across Europe and North America (with five chapters in the US) all dedicated to relieving isolation and loneliness among older adults.
Since opening our Boston doors in 1979, LBFE Boston has been working to improve the lives of older adults who often have limited access to transportation, language barriers to navigate, and few family members or friends nearby. Priority is given to older adults living independently at, or below, the poverty line. Weekly programs are offered without charge and without regard to race, gender, creed, nationality, or sexual orientation.
Our vision is to help build inclusive, intergenerational communities. We collaborate with public/affordable senior housing buildings and local senior centers, as well as Boston’s colleges and universities to connect the young and old alike in the spirit of friendship.
Our core programs, CitySites, Digital Dividends and Creative Connections, bring younger participants together with older participants where they live, on a weekly basis for formal and informal programming to build mutually-beneficial relationships where everyone is welcome to teach, learn, give, receive, and enjoy life.
Our founder, Armand Marquiset, was born on September 29, 1900 near Paris, France. Early in the 1920s he and his grandmother, Madame de Laumont, visited less well off families who had lost sons in the war. The death of his grandmother in 1930 gave him a shock that had far reaching consequences.
In Paris on July 7, 1939, in Notre Dame Cathedral, Marquiset said “I saw Little Brothers, spreading across the earth igniting little fires of love.” But the outbreak of World War II caused him to set these plans aside in the interest of more pressing needs. In 1939 he therefore started Servir (To Serve) through which he relocated the children of active soldiers to rural areas.
At War’s end, Marquiset returned to the idea of Little Brothers. However, after observing and hearing about post-war conditions in Paris, he decided to focus the effort on elderly people: “1945 was such a precarious time for elderly people. The war brought them poverty…and it became critical to help them, especially to help them continue living in their homes.” For Marquiset, the spiritual needs of these elderly people, left alone and isolated by the war, were even greater than their material needs. “The greatest poverty,” he said, “is the poverty of love.”
He began alone, working out of a rented apartment in a poor section of Paris, visiting the elderly poor. He shared meals, brought flowers, and offered friendship. Eventually “little fires of love” spread and others adopted the mission and opened chapters across Europe and North America.
Our founder’s words still ring true today, “Living is more than a roof over our heads and food on the table. In addition to offering material and physical support, we believe that living requires the presence of people who care about us and about whom we care. Living requires the little touches that bring joy, like flowers, music and shared laughter.”