It Takes A Village To Care For These Seniors

By TIa Lowe, Howard University News Service

In the heart of a Friendship Heights, stands Friendship Heights Neighbors Network; a non-profit organization whose work focuses on assisting elderly residents in the surrounding community.

A little over a year old, the Friendship Heights Neighbors Network is one of many villages that assist the elderly functioning around the nation.

“(The village) is a small, non-profit, non-governmental organization supported by member dues, grants, and sometimes donations,” said Friendship Heights and Little Falls operations manager, Louise Smoak.

A full member has the ability to request services such as a ride to an appointment, assistance with a technology issue in their home, reading aid, among other things. Community and social members can oftentimes serve in the role of a volunteer as well. These members are usually more mobile individuals who participate in planning events as well as attending others.

The organization holds five programs a month for beneficiaries of the organization. The older citizens of the eight communities served are invited to participate in activities such as walkers group, meditation meet-Up, speaker series, social events, and crafts and chat.

Responsible for the continuous success of the village, is a team of volunteers dedicated to making the living conditions of Friendship Heights’ senior citizens as peaceful as possible.

“A lot of what I do is driving. I drove a member with serious eye problems to the ophthalmologist, waited, and drove her back,” volunteer, vice-president, and treasurer Evan Smith said.

Providing elderly residents with this type of service helps avoid the possibility of them being placed in retirement institutions. The organization serves over 2,800 seniors in the Little Falls area.  

“Most seniors want to age in place,” said the president of Friendship Heights Neighbors Network Constance Row. The non-profit keeps member comfort at the core of their values. “I really believe people want to help other people,” said Smoak.

The Friendship Heights Neighbors Network looks forward to more growth heading into their second year in operation.