Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly, Chicago Chapter
355 N Ashland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60607-1019
Relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly
June 10, 2014
Our elder Alice and her sister Nazie are the last surviving siblings in their family. They aren’t estranged, in fact, they adore each other, but they still hadn’t seen each other for three years. The reason for their separation? A lack of transportation. Alice is legally blind and Nazie uses a wheelchair, so though the two sisters lived only about 40 minutes apart, it might as well have been a thousand miles—they didn’t have a way to get together.
One day, Alice made a special request to the volunteer Program Assistant who visited her, Lukas. “It’s my sister’s birthday. Can you take me?” She had never asked him for a favor before, so Lukas knew this was something special. He immediately agreed, and they made their plan to visit Nazie.
“I picked her up in the morning, and drove to her sister’s– about a 40-minute ride,” said Lukas. “Alice brought her sister some chicken and vegetables – because that’s all she had to give Nazie for a birthday present. We sat there for about two hours together; they were happy and sharing stories of growing up in rural Louisiana.”
The successful visit got Lukas thinking. It would soon be Alice’s birthday. “I asked Alice what she was doing on her birthday,” Lukas recalls, “’Oh, nothing,’ she said. ‘Just like normal, sitting here watching TV, like every day.’” Lukas began to plan a wonderful surprise for his friend.
“I went to Nazie’s nursing home and asked her if I could pick her up and take her to visit Alice as a surprise birthday party.” After working out all the logistics, “I had to get Nazie into a vehicle. Luckily, Little Brothers has the wheelchair van – the one with the sliding door and the ramp you can fold out – where you can fold down the rear seat and put in a wheelchair. It was very easy with that van—she didn’t even have to get out of her wheelchair.”
Other friends, including Alice’s Little Brothers program coordinator, Carmen, another friend from Little Brothers, Denise, and Alice’s homemaker were invited to join the surprise. Carmen picked up a cake, and everybody kept the secret.
Alice was completely surprised. Nazie decided to play a trick on her, and disguise her voice by speaking with a deeper pitch. Alice didn’t know who it was. Nazie stood up out of the wheelchair and asked Alice, “Can I get a hug?” Alice said, “Sure, you can have a hug.” Then Nazie said, “I love you,” to which Alice responded, “I love you, too.” Carmen said, “But Alice, you don’t even know who this is!” Alice said, “Yes, but I love everybody.” Then she realized it was Nazie.
Lukas says, “She kept saying ‘Oh, my God.’ I almost broke down in tears.”
The party went on for two hours. “We had a good time,” said Lukas, “Alice said that this was the best birthday she’s ever had.”
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.
Help us by making a donation: www.littlebrotherschicago.org/donate
Refer an elder to us: www.littlebrotherschicago.org/for-elders/refer-an-elder
Or become a volunteer: www.littlebrotherschicago.org/volunteer
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