Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly is now serving the elderly in the Big Apple! Little Brothers NYC is currently based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Our grassroots efforts started in November 2016 with our first-holiday event. During Thanksgiving week a team of 7 volunteers delivered 20 Thanksgiving care packages with flowers and hand-written cards to 20 elderly residents suffering from social isolation. One month later we were able to deliver 50 Christmas gift baskets and make 50 in-home holiday visits to the elderly homebound in Brooklyn. This community effort was made possible by the amazing help of 21 volunteers and drivers bringing holiday cheers and much-needed companionship.
One year later we reached our first milestone. Thanks to the support and generosity of over 100 volunteers with a heart for seniors and several community partners, we have been able to make over 1,000 friendly visits to over 200 elderly neighbors at risk of social isolation.
Those friendly visits are made through our Friendship and Flowers visiting program, Holiday gift basket deliveries, Food Assistance program and Friendly Visiting program. Slowly but surely, we are starting to build lifetime friendships with isolated elders in NYC, showing them they are seen, remembered, listened to and cared for in their later years.
We hope to expand our friendly visiting services in Brooklyn and Manhattan in 2018 and to continue brightening the lives of the elderly we serve and encounter. Please join us in making this world a kinder place to grow older!
Jerome Michaux | Senior Advocate
Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly NYC Expansion Site
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.
Our motto, “flowers before bread”, expresses our philosophy that people need the special pleasures in life in addition to the necessities. Love, dignity, and beauty in life are as essential to life as physical needs.
Little Brothers was founded in Paris in 1946 by French nobleman Armand Marquiset
After witnessing the suffering and oppression of the elderly in war-ravaged Europe, Marquiest began delivering hot meals and flowers to its elderly neighbors.
The first US chapter started in Chicago in 1959, followed by Cincinnati in 1997. Little Brothers now serves the elderly in Boston, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Philadelphia, San Francisco and most recently, New York City.Click Here
Armand Marquiset was born on September 29, 1900, in the château of Montguichet near Paris. Thanks to his parents and grandparents he had an agreeable childhood. As a youth, he was shy and not an outstanding student although he was interested in music and studied with Nadia Boulanger.
Early in the 1920s he and his grandmother, Madame de Laumont, visited less well-off families who had lost sons in the war. This was the first time that this young bon vivant was confronted with genuine poverty.
His life from 1920 to 1930 was full of contrasts. In 1925 he returned to his Christian faith and at the same time, hosted regular parties at his splendid villa near Honfleur. On the one hand, he cavorted with Hollywood stars, and on the other, he often visited the monastery Solesmes to pray and reflect.
The death of his grandmother in 1930 gave him a shock that had far-reaching consequences.
He began his humanitarian work by preparing meals for homeless people through Oeuvre de la mie de pain, the “breadcrumbs” Organization. He then founded the organization Pour que l’esprit vive (That the Spirit shall Live) in support of unemployed artists. He also founded les Amis de la banlieue (The Friends of the Suburbs) to assist the poor children of the Parisian suburbs.
However, Armand Marquiset longed for a larger organization that would encompass all of his charitable activities. Gradually the idea of “petits frères” took shape in his mind. In Paris on July 7, 1939, while at prayer in Notre Dame Cathedral, Marquiset had a mystical vision that gave birth to the Little Brothers: “I saw Little Brothers,” he said, “spreading across the earth igniting, little fires of love.”
But the outbreak of World War II caused him to set these plans aside in the interest of more pressing needs. In 1939 he, therefore, started Servir (To Serve) through which he relocated the children of active soldiers to rural areas. In Lyon, he assisted refugees from Alsace Lorraine through Secours national, and he organized the provision and distribution of food with the help of Lyon-Charitable that can now offer up to 70,000 meals per day. Furthermore, he spread his influence and assistance to Algeria and Spain.
At War’s end, Marquiset returned to the idea of Little Brothers. However, after observing and hearing about post-war conditions in Paris, he decided to focus the effort on elderly people: “1945 was such a precarious time for elderly people… (it)… became the most pressing problem. The war brought them poverty…and it became critical to help them, especially to help them continue living in their homes – the difficult situation presented challenging conditions.” For Marquiset, the spiritual needs of these elderly people, left alone and isolated by the war, were even greater than their material needs.
“The greatest poverty,” he said, “is the poverty of love.”
He decided to help these needy people, calling them his “friends.” He began alone, working out of a rented apartment in a poor section of Paris, visiting the elderly poor. To them, he brought sumptuous meals and flowers, which expressed his affection and love for them. He summed up his mission with the motto, flowers before bread, which reminds us that help for the needy must be animated by love.
Marquiset’s powerful example of love and service soon attracted many followers, both volunteers, and donors. The Little Brothers began to offer beautiful Christmas celebrations, acquired palatial estates where they offered vacations for their elderly friends, and in time founded various branches of the organization within and outside of France.
Armand dedicated himself to this “adventure in love” for 20 years. After a 1964 trip through India during which he became deeply troubled by the extreme poverty he witnessed, he created Les Enfants du Tiers Monde(Children of the Third World). He withdrew from the leadership of Little Brothers to found Frères des Hommes (Brothers of Men), an organization that has spread to many developing countries on three continents.
In 1969, a heart attack caused him to give up leadership of Frères des Hommes. This event, however, did not prevent him from founding yet another charitable organization, Frères du ciel et de la Terre (Brothers of Heaven and Earth) in 1972, with the mission of helping homeless people.
Up until his death on July 14, 1981, in Burtonport, Ireland, he continued to involve himself with his fellow mankind.