No one feels the effects of isolation more than homebound LGBT older adults. They often have little weekly contact with the outside other than visits with health professionals, and virtually no contact with members of the LGBT community. If they do not have family to support them as they get older, it is likely that their existing support network will shrink and become more fragile over time.
Friendly visiting programs are a proven way to alleviate this isolation and rebuild communities across generations. The SAGE Friendly Visitor program, founded in 1979 and the first of its kind in the U.S., matches volunteers from the community with LGBT older adults ("Friends at Home") to form relationships that are mutually rewarding and build community.
How It Works
All Friends at Home are SAGE clients and are seen by a social worker. When someone calls asking for SAGE's help (either the client, a friend, relative, neighbor or other service provider), a SAGE staff person or social worker visits the home for an initial assessment. Friendly Visitor referrals are made with the client's consent. SAGE then matches the client with a friendly visitor.
Friendly visitor volunteers are carefully screened and fully trained. Those who become friendly visitors have made a commitment to at least one year of involvement with the client. They visit once a week for an hour or two and make calls between visits. They also attend supportive and educational meetings every other month.
If you are interested in learning more about the Friendly Visitor program, including starting a Friendly Visiting program at your agency, please contact Tom Weber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to volunteer as a SAGE Friendly Visitor, please consider attending a volunteer orientation on the third Wednesday of each month at 7pm at 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor. Please call the main number (646-576-8669) to confirm the orientation date.