“Friends of the Elderly,” Family for a Day
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“Friends of the Elderly,” Family for a Day

Grand Circle joins Little Brothers' Friends of the Elderly for a special Mother's Day Lunch

Mothers Lunch

Beth Goldberg, an Air Auditor at Grand Circle Travel, has helped out at the Little Brothers' Mother's Day lunch for the past six years. "Little Brothers," she explains, "aren't actually brothers at all—they aren't even little; they are men and women who belong to a national organization that calls itself 'Friends of the Elderly.'" It's become a Mother's Day tradition for Grand Circle employees and their friends and families to join forces with the Little Brothers of Boston and throw a fancy lunch for 25 to 30 low-income elderly women every year.

This past Mother's Day, May 9th, it was raining cats and dogs, but that didn't stop volunteers from spreading out across the city to pick-up the women (who are all over 70 years old and live independently, although on a fixed income of less than $8,000 per year) and drive them to the Little Brothers' facility—a large, friendly-looking three-story house in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston.

Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best, and the mood was festive as the women sat down with their escorts to enjoy a lunch of cordon-bleu meatloaf roll, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, with strawberry cheesecake for Dinnerdessert. After lunch came live music: a wonderful gospel singer named Donna Bells sang show tunes for the ladies, while Grand Circle associate David Lubchansky accompanied on the keyboard. Afterwards, the women were each given a "goody bag" filled with homemade sweets (baked by Grand Circle volunteers) and a bouquet of flowers before being escorted back home.

End of story? Not quite. An event like the Little Brothers' Mother's Day Lunch is really just one chapter in a much larger story. For instance, consider how Donna Bells, the gospel singer, wound up volunteering that day. It's a little complicated, but then good stories often are.

There are two Donnas in this story: Donna Bells, and her best friend, Donna Shepard. Donna Shepard happens to be the recent recipient of another Grand Circle volunteer effort—the annual Rebuilding Together Boston event, which took place this year on April 24th.

RTBRebuilding Together Boston (RTB), like Little Brothers, is a charitable organization with which Grand Circle Travel and its associates have strong and long-standing ties. Every year, on the last Saturday in April, RTB organizes hundreds of volunteers who fan out across the city to make critical repairs and renovations to the homes of low-income home-owners and the offices of eligible not-for-profit organizations. And every year, Grand Circle associates, along with their friends and families, work together on an RTB renovation project. This year, RTB assigned Grand Circle affiliated volunteers to renovate Donna Shepard's 100-year old Victorian home.

"It's a big house," says Lauren Fabrizio, the Grand Circle Foundation coordinator. "They gave it an amazing facelift in one day."

As the crew of 140 volunteers worked on the house, Lauren, who had the job of "ambassador," spent the day with Donna Shepard. "It was my job to pamper her," she explains. "We just spent the day chatting while all the work was going on."

Donna at RTBDonna was amazed at what was happening to her house—it was painted on both the inside and the out, and at the end of the day, she had a brand new kitchen. She was deeply moved by the generosity of the volunteers who'd given up their Saturday to make it all happen.

"At one point," Lauren says, "Donna turned to me and said, 'I want to give back. What can I do for you?' I told her about the upcoming Little Brothers' Mother's Day Brunch, and she signed on to help out." As did her best friend, Donna Bells—the gospel singer, who was equally moved by what the volunteers had given her friend, and who also felt the urge to "give back."

So ends one chapter, in an ongoing story of giving back.