CINCINNATI — According to a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Health, older people who socialize regularly tend to live longer than those in isolation. 

An international organization with a chapter in Cincinnati is doing its part to match seniors with volunteers to provide that social interaction. Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly is celebrating 27 years in Ohio.

What You Need To Know

  • Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly is an international non-profit with a chapter in Cincinnati

  • The organization brings together seniors with volunteers who help them with all kinds of needs 

  • The group's annual fundraiser is March 9th. 

The group was founded in 1946 in France for elderly Parisians who had lost their savings and family members in World War II.

“Our founders felt that elders deserved love, dignity and support,” said Cincinnati chapter executive director Ja’Lah Willingham.

She and a team of four other employees help to manage about 400 volunteers and dozens of seniors who often get paired with a volunteer, developing long-term friendships, like client George McKittrick and volunteer Beth Myers.

The two have been meeting weekly for the past five years, doing everything from trips to the grocery store to rooting for the Cincinnati Cyclones hockey team.  

“Just being part of Little Brothers has, you know, given me so much joy,” Myers said. 

“It’s not like, ‘Oh, I got to go pick up George today.’ You know, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s. It’s George Day.’” 

She and McKittrick were both teachers and in later years, McKittrick worked for Apple during its early years, helping to establish call centers in California, Ireland and other places around the world.

“After I went from Tokyo to Sydney, Australia, to Singapore, and then when they said, ‘Well, now we want you to set it up in China.’” McKittrick said. “And I said, I’m 60 years old.”

McKittrick will be 80 this summer. While his life has slowed down, he loves talking about his travels.

“George just has so much knowledge with the places that he’s been,” Myers said. “I was a teacher, so was he. We have a lot in common.”

“We do see a lot of beautiful relationships like Beth and George,” Willingham said. “Our seniors know they can call on their volunteers to assist them with a doctor’s appointment, grocery shopping and a host of other things.”

The nonprofit also hosts activities including outings, dinners, movie nights and art instruction. They also deliver a freshly baked cake and flowers to seniors on their birthdays. 

The organization will celebrate 27 years in Cincinnati with their yearly gala fundraiser, March 9th, a speakeasy-themed party at The Syndicate, across the river from Cincinnati in Newport, KY.

“We are one of those places that does not receive government funding,” Willingham said. “So the way that we keep our doors open is by private and individual donations.”

For more information about volunteering or signing up a senior, you will find information on their website.