Local Non-profit looking for 'Friends to the Elderly'

Published: Feb. 12, 2018 at 4:23 PM CST
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On this Valentine's Day, we often think of our significant others. But, what about our friends?

"They know where to go because we come every week," said Lindsey Peterson as she followed her two running kids down the hallway of Heritage Woods Nursing Home in Moline.

"Hello, it's us!" she said after opening the door to room 340.

"Well look who we have here," said an elderly woman with a smile.

Every Thursday, Peterson spends her time visiting an old friend in room 340.

"I guess you're my old friend," she said to 97-year-old Bea Strandlund.

"I'm your old friend and I'm definitely old," Strandlund responds with quick wit. She goes by Aunt Bea for short.

Aunt Bea is 97 years young.

But, there used to be three people on these Thursday visits.

"I spent a lot of time with her and I will never forget the time spent with her," Peterson said about her late Grandmother Lucille.

You see, Aunt Bea and Lindsey aren't even related. They met while Lindsey visited her Grandmother. Bea was Lucille's best friend.

"She loved nature, she was a great person," Peterson said. "I miss her dearly."

When Grandma Lucille and Aunt Bea moved to separate nursing homes, the friendship only grew.

"We would just drive her down the street to be with Bea, I would call it a play date," said Peterson.

Up until the time came.

"We brought her over for her last visit just two weeks before my Grandma passed away," she added. "They were able to sustain their friendship until the end."

Now, a year-and-a-half later. Peterson decided to give others the opportunity to become a friend.

"I decided to multiply myself and set up a non-profit organization to find more friends such as myself,. to go meet elderly individuals and visit them," she said.

The non-profit is called "Friends to the Elderly." Twenty people have signed up so far and went to two nursing homes last week for the first time.

After an application and a background check, you too can donate your time to make a friend like Aunt Bea.

"I think it was meant to be," Peterson said. "Bea was meant to be."