Over 150 seniors celebrated Thanksgiving with a hearty luncheon at the Hyatt Regency, hosted by Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) on Nov. 23.
LBFE has worked with persons 70 and over who are without the benefits of family or adequate social contacts, regardless of race, nationality or gender. Twenty years ago, LBFE partnered with the Hyatt Regency by Logan Airport for an annual Thanksgiving luncheon to gather Boston seniors for great food and music.
Seniors enjoyed a traditional Thanksgiving buffet, including turkey, green beans, pumpkin pies and apple pies. After lunch, the elders danced to songs from their youth.
“A lot of seniors came to me and told me how much they liked the party by holding my hands and saying ‘thank you’,” said Nikki Therrien, LBFE executive director. “Our annual Thanksgiving party is getting bigger every year. I guess that’s because of word of mouth; the seniors say to their neighbors how much fun they had and more people sign up for it.”
At the party, seniors of different races and nationalities came from all neighborhoods of Boston. Many Chinese seniors attended, who were mostly residents of 10 Temple Place and Symphony Plaza on Massachusetts Avenue. Three Mandarin-speaking volunteers who study at Northeastern University helped the seniors board buses.
“We recognize that quite a lot seniors in the City of Boston are immigrants,” said Therrien. “About 19 percent of seniors are linguistically isolated. These are people that we need to be better at reaching out and working with.”
Therrien said LBFE recruits multilingual volunteers by connecting with universities who offer social service programs or individuals who want to serve the community. So far, there are volunteers who visit seniors and speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian, Vietnamese and other languages.
Therrien said a mission of LBFE is to relieve the isolation and loneliness of the elderly. The Thanksgiving luncheon is one way it brings elders from different cultures together to enjoy the holidays.
“Boston is a very diverse city and it is getting increasingly diverse. By the year of 2030, there will be more people of 60 and above than people under 18. That group of 60-plus is going to be from different cultures and speaking different languages,” Therrien said. “I think it is so important to bring people together and know each others’ culture and know there are other groups that exist in the society. There is so much to be learned.”
LBFE is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization, serving seniors through one-on-one visits, one-on-one based work, as well as community-based programing. The organization works at senior housing sites with resident coordinators. LBFE has monthly volunteering opportunities for individuals to helps seniors in the community. Multilingual ability is preferred.
On Christmas Day, LBFE will deliver meals to isolated elders. For more information, visit www.littlebrothersboston.org.
This post is also available in: Chinese