An Out-of-the-Ordinary Organization
This summer was a complete surprise for me. I knew I was going to work with a social organization, but I didn’t realize it would surpass my expectations. I knew I was going to visit Senior Citizens, but I didn’t realize they would end up teaching me. I knew I was going to work with a coordinator and colleagues, but I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to work alongside them.
My name is Lucas Jones, I’m 24, I’m from the state of Georgia in the US and I am so happy that I decided to do an internship with Les Petits Frères des Pauvres in Marseille.
I have worked in other organizations, with political parties and NGOs, but none had the heart and the unity that I found in Les Petits Frères. From Eric at the reception desk to Manuel the director, you can expect a warm welcome and a wide smile, and I could honestly say that about everyone in the office.
My responsibilities consisted mainly of managing the logistics of a local team of volunteers. I carried out the internal communication of a specific area in Marseille, managed updates, logistics and whatever else was needed to ensure the smooth functioning of the team’s small working parts. I also compiled and organized information so that all involved could easily access and understand key data.
Along with logistic work, twice a week I visited senior citizens in their homes. I will always remember Madame B’s stories of her ancestors, the wonderful cakes of Madame D’A and all Monsieur C’s funny stories.
I worked alongside an excellent team of volunteers with a coordinator that trusted me, that listened to my needs as well as my ideas. Instead of telling me exactly what to do, I was presented with a problem and given the creative liberty to resolve the issue in the best way I saw fit. True to the mission of Les Petits Frères, I was always treated with respect and fellowship.
What did I find in Les Petits Frères? An organization with people as good as their motto: “Some flowers before the bread.” If an organization can be judged by the quality of its employees, you will not find better. As I now finish my internship with them this summer, I can say without hesitation that this organization is truly as good as it seems.
Les Petits Frères’ mission isn’t just charity work; it is a real need to which they are responding in our society. Both the employees as well as the volunteers believe in the mission and importance of Les Petits Frères des Pauvres. I am so thankful to have been able to improve my work skills while performing a work truly significant.
Volunteer, team Chartreux in Marseille. July 24 2014
Vacation program : Let's go !
Summer voluntary work
During the last summer, 95 foreign volunteers strengthened the teams of volunteers for the holiday program in France.
As every year, with the arrival of the summer, the movement of volunteers who decide to share their holidays with the elderly began. It is the case of Laura that, on June 27th of this year, left Madrid with a suitcase and a big desire to live a new experience as volunteer with elderly.
It is thanks to the friend of her mother, Rosario, volunteer in Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly in Madrid, that she learnt about the possibility of participating in holidays organized by the association les petits frères des Pauvres in France. Her wishes: practice the language, because she studies French at the official school of languages in Madrid, but also to make activities with isolated people.
In the program, 12 days in the holiday home called La Prée, and the discovery of the region: the Cathedral of Bourges, the market of Issoudun and his museum of contemporary art. But also times playful as visit in the farm, the marriage of the daughter of the gardener, the “petanque” matches and music and dance evenings (piano and flute thanks to Pauline and Guy, coordinator of the group).
Finally, days filled with happiness and with unforgettable moments for her and for the elderly who, thanks to her commitment and the one of the other volunteers, were able to take advantage of 12 days outside their routine and their everyday life.
Marseille and Madrid get together
« Nous étions neuf en tout, raconte Chantal, dont Michel, le responsable, ainsi que Marcel et Mireille, deux bénévoles. Bien encadrés, choyés et bien logés, nous avons aussi été gâtés à tous les repas (tapas, tortillas, paella, jambon crus, etc.). Nos hôtes, les bénévoles espagnols, se sont relayés à nos côtés durant tout le séjour »
Six people accompanied in the region of Marseille left to meet the Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly in Madrid (Amigos de los Mayores), who welcomed very well the group and played their role of guides through this big city of culture and the party.
Thanks to funds collected during two years, with different fundraising activities, six old friends were able to leave for four days to the discovery of Madrid.
April 9th of this year, plane transporting the group arose on the airport of Madrid, where a minibus waited for them to take them to their hotel, ideally situated in the city center, on Gran Via Street.
The stay started by a walk in the city to locate the historic center, the Royal Palace surrounded with magnificent gardens and the Almudena Cathedral. The next day, the group discovered the city under another angle, comfortably installed in a tourist bus, with the explanations of the main districts and monuments.
Friday, the group was welcomed for breakfast at the Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly office. They were able to share a good moment with five invited elderly, as well as a team of employees and volunteers. This brotherly time allowed the meeting, as well as exchanges of small presents.
The last day, a relaxing walk in the big Retiro Park and its Crystal palace, the lake with its boats and its monuments, in a Spanish-style atmosphere and a good "siesta" on the lawn. On returning to Marseille, the group, tired but happy, knows that they will share the good memories of this journey during a long time.
The group was anxious to add this: "THANK YOU, thanks to our new Spanish friends and thank you again to Danièle A. Michel R. and Louis who were not able to come, but who were involved in making this unforgettable journey come true. You are our family ".
According to Michel Florian, volunteer in Marseille
The European Group welcomed in Toulouse
During two days, members of the European Group of Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, worked in Toulouse with various actors of the region Midi-Pyrénées - Roussillon on the models of development.
Twice a year, the European Group, which is formed by representatives of Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly in Europe, meets to work together on various themes. Normally the handled themes are related to communication, common projects or best practices in giving support to isolated elderly.
Between the new challenges which emerged by the growth of some of the European organizations, in the last European group that took place in Berlin in September, 2013, a shared feeling emerged on the need to know first-hand the process of development of the associative project in France.
So one day of this meeting was concentrated to know the process experimented in Toulouse. Yann, the director of the Region, Laurette, the president, and Nicolas, who is in charge of the development, presented us the history of the region and the various models of development of autonomous teams.
Christine, Marie Christine and Isabelle, from Perpignan, Rodez and Toulouse respectively, with their testimony showed us how the volunteers live their autonomy in the region. The creation of every team, the organization with committees or how the team feels stakeholder of the region, are some of the subjects approached on its interventions.
And finally, but is not less important, we had Marie Pierre's intervention, employee for approximately ten years. She explained us how her work had to be adapted with the implementation of the associative project; the difficulties met and learnt lessons.
The last day we exchanged on other themes as the evaluation of the accompanied elderly, the European strategy, the volunteers meeting that will take place in Berlin in September and the European Voluntary Service (SVE).
Two very fruit-bearing and interesting workdays. Thanks for the good welcome to the team of Toulouse!
The British Embassy in Paris supports les petits frères des Pauvres
The charity committee of the British Embassy has decided to support Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly in the context of its fundraising activities for 2014.
The charity committee invites each year the employees of the British Embassy in Paris to participate in various activities to raise funds for one association. This year, the Little Brothers were honored to be chosen.
In this context, at lunchtime, fifty employees ran into the garden of the Embassy and near Place de la Concorde. Ambassador Peter Ricketts, put on his running shoes as well and took part of the Sport Relief Mile with all the participants. To conclude, the riders met for an appetizer in the gardens of the residence.
Little Brothers would like to thank the employees of the Embassy for their mobilization and especially members of the charity committee. With actions like this one done by the British Embassy staff, Little Brothers can accomplish their mission by supporting a greater number of older people living in multiple precarious situations.
Evening of French-American Philanthropy
Barbara Bringuier, International Coordinator for the Little Brothers of the Poor, Ambassador François Delattre, French film actress and director Zabou Breitman
On December 12, François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, welcomed a French charity to the French Embassy’s premises for an evening of fundraising and solidarity with the cause of needy elderly around the world.
The American Fund of the Little Brothers of the Poor, which provides social assistance to seniors, brought together supporters of the group’s work. The evening featured speeches, a silent auction, and a dégustation of French cuisine prepared by top chefs.
François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States, provided remarks during the dinner. "In today’s testing times, the values of respect, fraternity, and helping those in need are more critical than ever," he said. "These values are at the core of the relationship" between France and the United States.
The idea of conducting the event at the Embassy in Washington hems to the Fund’s desire to launch operations in the nation’s capital. "We are already active in seven U.S. cities," explained Barbara Bringuier, the group’s International Coordinator, who works at the headquarters in Paris. "We’re hoping to expand, and maybe open new chapters in New York" as well.
Called the Association Les Petits Frères des Pauvres in French, the organization has offered social support to aging persons since its founding in 1946. Its services range from financial assistance and accompanied outings to holiday events, each of which seek to address the isolation that some experience in the latter years of their lives.
On hand to help raise awareness of the group’s American activities was Zabou Breitman, a prominent French film actress and director. She described the Association as "very special, and very necessary," adding that their charitable work "helps us remember who we are."
From : http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article5157
More information : www.petits-freres.org/fr/actualites/premier-gala-caritatif-a-washington-dc.html and www.littlebrothersofthepoor.org
No elder alone in Christmas
Every year all the members of the International Federation Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, prepare different activities to celebrate Christmas in more than forty cities. The most important is to celebrate together these special days of the year when loneliness and social isolation is a reality for many older people.
At a time when friends and family are treasured and remembered, for those who have lost loved ones or whose family live far away, getting through the Christmas period can be especially difficult.
This is the reason why the different associations and fondations Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly prepare big Christmas parties where music, food, smiles and fun abound. Also for seniors who are not able to come out, visiting activities are prepared to deliver meals with the full feast and trimmings, complete with a lovely plant.
Our volunteers on Christmas day log hundreds of miles to make sure that everyone has a good meal and spends time talking with a friendly visitor.
Because we all believe that, unless they want, no elderly person should be alone on Christmas.
Washington D.C. first fundraising Gala
* For this support program, this is an opportunity to experience the practical development of a national fundraising by mailing and sharing expertise with the American Chapters.
On December 12th, under the support program to the US Little Brothers –Friends of Elderly chapters*, les petits frères des Pauvres organize a « Wine and food tasting benefit » in the French Embassy at Washington DC. 250 people are expected, as well as Michel and Lilo Salmon, the founders of Little Brothers of the Poor in the United States and Zabou Breitman, French actress and director as a special guest. The event will be held under the high patronage and in the presence of François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States.
This Gala has a double objective:
- Global awareness of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, especially in the French Washington networks;
- Raise funds to consolidate and develop actions in the United States.
During the dinner, 7 Chefs and Sommeliers of D.C. will propose to the participants a tasting menu wine and food. Many surprises and references to Little Brothers history will take place in this open event for all bienfaiteurs that will support our cause this night:
- An auction of objects that France collected thank to the testators.
- A photo exhibition on the work of Little Brothers of the Poor in France and in the United States;
- The music which will be played during the cocktail are interpretations of pieces written by Armand Marquiset.
The Ambassador and all the French network in Washington has prepared a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the event: they have shown very sensitive to the cause of little brother of the Poor and praised the fact that the money collected will be used for actions in the United States. Invitations were sent by the Embassy, the Alliance Française, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the association " Mamans autour de DC ", etc., and diffused on different blogs and websites.
This event is a great opportunity to help the consolidation of Little Brothers / Friends of the Elderly structures with economical problems, to increase the notoriety of the association and enhance the know how exchanges between Americans and French.
More information : www.littlebrothersofthepoor.org
Maisie celebrates her 100th anniversary in Dublin
Maisie Flood celebrates her 100th anniversary with Friends of the Elderly in Dublin (Ireland) and on the radio!
Maisie is sitting in the thrift shop, waiting. You might think she is tired of waiting Maisie. But no. She is a hell of a woman. She calls everyone by their first name, asks about children, she has her opinion on everything and everyone listens to her.
Today is her birthday and we decided to celebrate it properly here at Friends of The Elderly. In the room, 90 people are waiting for Maisie to make her entrance: Wednesday Club regulars who know her for 29 years that she is part of the association, supporters of the Liverpool football team, which she is the oldest fan, and the team of the famous “Derek Mooney show” from RTE radio. Everyone has played the game to dress in red and white, the colours of Liverpool. For once, the room seems too small to fit all these people. The Liverpool’s supporters are dancing with the elderly; people are fighting for the microphone to sing: today there is an audience to impress!
Finally, Brenda, the radio host, asks everyone to sit. Our program is about to begin! Everyone is silent. The tension grows with the minutes passing. Maisie enters and the show begins. They ask questions about everything and she remembers and reminiscences... A surprise awaits at the other end of the waves: John Aldridge (ex-player of the Republic of Ireland and Liverpool) wants to wish her a happy birthday! She speaks to him as a lifelong friend. She opens her cheque of € 2,540 and the letter of the President: this is a hell of a gift! Finally, it's time to blow out the candles on her giant birthday cake "Special Liverpool”. Everyone sings the Liverpool anthem; “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and Maisie blows out all her candles. She shared the cake for everyone to taste. Maisie is the oldest and happiest person in the room.
Today, she is 100 years old.
Gaëlle Le Gouguec European Volunteer, Dublin
"Older persons and crisis" : a seminar in Barcelona
Amics de la Gent Gran organizes next Wednesday, 13th of November, the Seminar « Older persons and crisis: pensions, housing, dependency and loneliness. Impacts and reactions ». It is the first event organised in Spain on this topic.
Society is suffering one of the most important socioeconomic changes of the last years and Amics of the Gent Gran wants to give a realistic vision on the current situation and to show the active role that some of these older persons are taking.
In the seminar the topics that will be discussed are:
- Current situation of older persons in the context of crisis : how pensions, loneliness, poverty and housing affect living conditions of the elderly.
- Contributions of older persons nowadays : their role as support for families, direct economic help to children, hosting them at their house, voluntary work, etc.
Flowers distribution in Spain
Amics de la Gent Major is part of the Spanish Federation « Amigos de los mayores », with foundations also in Barcelona and Madrid.
On October 1st, the Spanish television "TV Levante" showed a report on the International Day of Older Persons, celebrated by the Foundation Amics de la Gent Major.
The day started with a public lecture of a Manifest in a public center of social services, and it was followed by an action where volunteers distributed flowers to more than 60 elderly at home. Two schools participated in the event by making and offering 250 paper flowers. Watch the video !
Montreal: Little Brothers on the public place on October, 1st
* In 1993, Jean Doré, mayor of Montreal, had the idea to donate the flower of seringat to the Little Brothers of the Poor as a flower of friendship. So called Jasmine of the poets, the emblem of the organism also symbolizes the memory.
On October 1st, Little Borthers of the Poor distributed “seringat*” flowers, a symbol of memory, in every Canadian city where the organization is present.
Early in the afternoon, citizens were invited to meet 150 "Old Friends" and volunteers in Montreal, in the Complexe Desjardins. Béatrice Picard, national godmother of Little Brothers of the Poor in Canada was there to support the campaign. The pianist Georges Tremblay and the singer Christine Chartrand, offered a show to guests.
The exhibition “VisÂges and TémoignÂges” (Complexe Desjardins from 1st toOctober 10th) was inaugurated in this special day: 48 men and women among whom Jean Coutu, Jeannine Sutto, Marguerite Lescop and Claude Béland agreed to offer their vibrating testimonies and to be photographed for the cause. This exhibition comes back just from Quebec where it was shown at the 2nd International Conference on Age-Friendly Cities and will go on travelling through Quebec during the next months.
Throughout the day, the volunteers visited elderly at home, at the hospital and in residences, to share friendship and tenderness with them. Everywhere in Quebec, friendly meetings took place, like dinners, dancing parties, concerts and brunch.
Finally, the Quebec National Assembly and its members underlined this day as an opportunity to be solidary towards the elderly.
Inspired by the article appeared on CNW Telbec| Newswire.Ca | 26 sept. 2013
Flowers of fellowship: the 5th edition!
Figures of a succesful campaing:
- More than 1 300 volunteers
- 65 000 flowers distributed
- 178 points of distribution
- 111 cities involved
On October 1st, to celebrate United Nations’ International Day of Older Persons, Little Brothers of the Poor have celebrated the 5th edition of the campaign " Flowers of fellowship ".
This campaign is a success in France but also in all the countries where members of the International Federation of the little brothers of the Poors are present. Specially this year, that the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has testified his support to this action with a letter.
Many volunteers of Little Brothers of the Poor, strengthened by public and private partners, have distruted flowers to the passers-by in markets, stations, streets, squares, hospitals or residences in more than 100 french cities. Volunteers gave a flower to citizens who had in their turn to offer this one to an old person suffering from solitude or poverty.
A symbolic and free action and an additional opportunity to share with the most isolated!
Main news from San Francisco
Regarding activities. Two main things are happening at this time in San Francisco...
- We are planning an Open House at the Office in San Francisco for October, 1st from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. We have invited our main donors (Foundations, Corporations and individual donors), some key volunteers, some elders as well as three key City of San Francisco Supervisors. Additionally, we have asked the city to declare October, 1st "Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly Day" in San Francisco.
- We are in the middle of the Razoo Crowd-Funding campaign "NO One Should Be Alone" that will end on October, 15th. It is the first time we try something like that and it has been a great experience with us.
And we also…
- just had last Saturday an Autumn Party for our elders and it was great success. For October, 26th, we are planning our Halloween In-Home Visits event.
Rose Lapel Pins for International Day of Older Persons in Minneapolis/St. Paul
The Minneapolis/St. Paul Chapter of Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly will celebrate International Day of Older Persons on Tuesday, Oct. 1 by distributing free rose lapel pins in several locations throughout the Twin Cities. The lapel pins are intended to serve as a reminder for people of all ages to appreciate elders in our families and in our communities.
Friends of the Elderly staff members and volunteers will give out the silk rose lapel pins from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations:
- The Nicollet Ave. and 6th St. intersection in Minneapolis
- The Hennepin Ave. and Lake St. intersection in Minneapolis
- The Victoria St. and Grand Ave. intersection in St. Paul
- The 5th St. W. and Market St. intersection in St. Paul
"International Day of Older Persons is the one day we have set aside to honor the contributions that elders have made - and are making - in our lives", said Greg Voss, Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly's Executive Director. "Too often, we take older persons for granted and they become invisible to us. By appreciating the elders around us, we celebrate and benefit from the many gifts they possess - wisdom, humor, experience, energy and friendship".
In 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared that, around the world, each October 1 would be known as International Day of Older Persons. It was a recognition of the "need for innovative and effective international co-operating in the field of aging" so that all countries can respond to the needs of an aging population.
Those needs are becoming even more pronounced as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age. Minnesota ranks second in the nation for longevity, and is home to a higher proportion of elders than many other states.
"In Hennepin and Ramsey counties, 49%-50% of elders live alone, and many are isolated and lonely. We hope that, by wearing a rose, or seeing the rose on someone else, people will be inspired to take that extra step to befriend and show appreciation to an elder", said Voss.