The Story of Friends for Life

Inez Russell, Executive Director
Inez Russell, Executive Director

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 was crying.  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. Please contact Inez for more info at 254-772-8100 x 106.

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