For many elderly or disabled adults living alone, there is no family near them and no-one comes to visit them, other than in some cases, occasional caregivers.
They feel unloved and unwanted, and often are left to struggle to remain independent.
In 1989 in Waco, Texas Inez Russell started Friends for Life (FFL), a humanitarian non-profit organization to be a friend to each of these people in the Waco area.
What she has accomplished over the years is incredible.
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Whether to be the listener so many of these people desperately need, or to take them grocery shopping, to doctor visits, pharmacies, assist in maintaining their homes, help them pay their bills or other basic services, Inez and FFL volunteers are there.
I asked Inez how FFL got its start:
In the spring of 1989... I was visiting my dad in the hospital when I heard a woman screaming. I went to see what was wrong and found a lady who was close to 90.
She was crying and she grabbed my arm and said, "I'm dying and I don't want to die alone. Please don't leave me." I stayed and she told me her whole life story. She had been a college graduate and a librarian for 50 years. She had children and grandchildren, but no one was coming to see her anymore.
She thought that meant she was dying. If she were going to live, people would still be coming to see her. I went and got my Bible and read to her. I brought her a stuffed animal and flowers. Mostly, I listened and she decided I wouldn't be doing all that if she were dying. She got well and went home.
One of the nurses said, "You didn't know the lady you have been visiting. There is another lady here who is all alone. Would you visit her?" I did and the same thing happened. I was told about another elderly lady who was alone and asked to visit her and this lady got well and went home also.
I started looking for an organization I could bring to town that would take care of people who, for whatever reason, were without family. When I couldn't find anything, I started Friends for Life.
How many people do you now have involved at Friends for Life?
We have 52 employees and last year 3,456 people volunteered 31,256 (recorded) hours to help our elderly and people with disabilities: Over 520 people are helped in our guardianship program Just over 100 people are enrolled in our adult day care program (nursing care, activities, & meals).
Over 900 people are helped each year through money management programs that include bill paying, budgeting, advocacy, intervention with creditors, assistance with Medicare Part B, information about and connection with resources. Over 2,000 [people were] helped through independent living and quality of life programs.
Dear Reader: I wish this wonderful humanitarian organization could be in more places. There are so many people in need of such caring, and such care is a godsend from those whose hearts are big enough to administer it.
To see the full email interview with Inez, including additional real life stories, click here.