Friends for Life is a 501(c)(3) charity that was founded in Waco, Texas in September of 1989 to improve the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities, particularly those who are without family to care for them.
Friends for Life helps the elderly and people with disabilities live independently as long as possible, protects and cares for those who are unable to care for themselves and brings generations together to enrich lives.
How We Started
I was visiting my father in the hospital one day when I heard a woman screaming. I went to see what was wrong and found a woman who was close to ninety years old. She said, “I’m dying and I don’t want to die alone, please don’t leave me!” I stayed and listened while she told me her life story. She was a college graduate who worked as a librarian for 50 years. She had both children and grandchildren. But while she was sick, in a hospital 200 miles away from her nearest family, no one was coming to see her. She was convinced this meant she was dying. If she were going to live, her family would still be coming to see her. The thought of dying alone absolutely terrified her.
I gave her a stuffed animal and flowers and read from my Bible to her. Mostly, I just listened to her. She decided I wouldn’t be doing all that if she were dying. In a short time, she got well and went home.
After I visited her, the nurses asked, ‘Since you visited this lady that you didn’t know, would you go see a lady on the fourth floor who is all alone?’ So, I also brought her a stuffed animal, visited with her, and she got well enough to go home. Then they asked, ‘There is someone on the second floor who has no family, could you check on her, too?’
As God made me aware of more elderly people who needed help – people who were without family, I kept thinking that the help they needed already existed – somewhere. For months it seemed that every time I picked up a newspaper, listened to the radio or watched television, I heard about elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. I learned that over half of the people in nursing home never had a single visitor. I also learned that over half of the elderly people who were living alone, needing help, weren’t getting any help at all – from anyone. I heard more about the elderly in those few months than ever before.
I searched for an organization that would give the elderly a support system when there was no family or when family could not meet the needs. When I couldn’t find anything, I started Friends for Life.
Areas of Service
In The Past Year:
Friends for LIfe helped 127 clients with Money Management, with over 3,426 bills paid. We have assisted 486 clients in Guardianship and cared for 114 Adult Day Care clients. Over 1,300 clients have been helped to live better lives in our Independent Living and Quality of Life program. Last Thanksgiving, more than 450 holiday meals were prepared and delivered to people in their homes. We are so thankful for our 184 volunteers this last year, who served a total of 25,595 hours. The private sector estimates the value of volunteer work at $25.11 per hour. That means our volunteers donated $567,348 of their time and services. Come join us!
Visit Us and See the Amazing Work We Are Doing Everyday in the Lives of Those Who Need Us.
Friends for Life is headquartered in Waco, Texas and has offices, staff and volunteers in many other counties of Texas. See a full listing here:
Friends for Life has a team of 60 people, many with specific accreditation in the fields of guardianship, nursing, law, elder care and intergenerational care. Our staff members are not only well trained but have hearts for the people we serve.
Our Governing Board
Friends for Life is governed by a board comprised of business and educational professionals and community leaders who serve a three-year term, meeting monthly and oversee various committees for the charity. To see a full listing of the Friends for Life Governing Board, click the link below.
1989 Started by founder and current executive director, Inez Russell. Initial programs were Independent Living and Quality of Life
1990 Guardianship Program started at the request of the McLennan County Judge
1994 Money Management Program started as part of a statewide project funded by the Meadows Foundation
1995 Began contracting with the state to provide guardianship services
1998 Agreement with McLennan County to provide guardianship services
1999 Funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided for expansion of Independent Living and Quality of Life Programs into neighboring rural counties
2000 Opened an Adult Day Care Center to take over a program that had previously been operated by a hospital
2003 Opened an office in Temple, TX
2006 Opened Meyer Family Intergenerational Center in Waco, TX to house the Adult Day Care Center and other programs
2007 Expanded Guardianship Program opening offices in Abilene, Corpus Christi, Tyler and San Antonio, Texas City, TX making it possible to serve people in 39 counties
2007- Grew Guardianship Program from 168 people served in 2007 to 470 people
2016 served in 2016 in 82 counties
2015 Inez Russell was named a CNN Hero for the work being done at Friends for Life.
2016 Grew Adult Day Care Program from 45 people served in 2007 to 104 people served in 2016
2016 Named Charity Champion by TFNB Your Bank for Life
2017 Grew Adult Day Care Program for 104 people served in 2016 to capacity level of 120 served in 2017