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.
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.
Today, LBFE has chapters across Europe and North America (with five chapters in the US) all dedicated to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly.
Since opening our Boston doors in 1979, LBFE Boston has been working to improve the lives of older adults who are without the benefit of family or adequate social contacts. Priority is given to elders living independently at, or below, the poverty line. Programs are offered without charge and without regard to race, gender, creed, nationality, or sexual orientation.
Our vision is to create inclusive communities that span generations and cultures to prevent and relieve isolation and loneliness. We collaborate with public and private senior housing buildings, senior centers, assisted living facilities and nursing homes as well as local colleges and universities to bring students and older adults together in friendship. Our core program, CitySites, brings older and younger participants together 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’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.”