On a cool breezy Sunday, over 100 volunteers, staff and supporters (including 15 dogs) from greater Boston participated in FriendshipWorks’ first annual Walk-a-thon to raise awareness of the issue of elder isolation. The Walk, appropriately named FriendshipWalks, raised close to $55,000, with more donations to come.
Starting from FriendshipWorks’ Downtown Boston and Jamaica Plain offices, walkers went along the streets of Boston and Brookline to the Allston/Brighton Neighborhood office for a joyful post-walk celebration. Delighting passersby along the way, walkers included a colorful parade of dogs, some of them representing FriendshipWorks’ PetPal visit program.
PetPal volunteer Michelle Reinstein walked with her yellow Labrador “May.” They visit elders weekly at the Sherrill House nursing home in Jamaica Plain. “If you are a friend of May, you know how she can make you smile. It’s not hard to imagine her bringing joy into the hearts of the elders she visits each week,” comments Reinstein. “May also has a new [elder] friend who enjoys one-on-one time with her through the PetPals/Friendly Visiting program.”
At the concluding event in Brighton’s Presentation School Foundation Community Center, Emily Shea, Boston’s Commissioner of Elderly Affairs, brought greetings from Mayor Walsh and reaffirmed the City’s support for and partnership with FriendshipWorks’ efforts in making Boston more age friendly.
Commissioner Shea highlighted some of FriendshipWorks recent efforts to expand services in Boston, such as opening a new neighborhood office in the South End, piloting a music-focused Friendly Visiting program in Jamaica Plain, and launching an elder civic engagement project called the “Missing Piece” Project in Brighton. “FriendshipWorks is one of my favorite organizations,” remarked Shea, “we look forward to our continued partnership.”
Also at the event, Connie Packard, FriendshipWorks’ Board President, emphasized that, “This is not over yet…We must continue to fundraise and bring attention to the issue of isolated elders. Tell your friends and colleagues about why FriendshipWorks programs are important.”
FriendshipWalks’ sponsors include: Code Red Consultants, VPNE Parking Solutions, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, the Cambridge Homes, Eastern Bank, Goddard House, Green Associates, and Propel Marketing.