Through the Senior Friends “Birthday Buddies” program, volunteers help Hull’s older residents celebrate their special day with a greeting card, small gift, and smiles all around.
Senior Friends is a group of volunteers serving Hull’s senior citizens in coordination with the Hull Senior Center and the Wellspring Senior Outreach Program.
Their mission is to bring interest and joy to the lives of seniors, “embracing them as extended family and reinforcing the message that our community is ‘there for them,’” Friends member Anne Cruse told The Hull Times.
The group was formed during the pandemic.
“It was a time of transition, with Barbara Lawlor retiring as COA/Senior Center director and Lisa Thornton coming on board,” Cruse said. “The center was closing due to COVID, so a group of us got together to keep things moving along.”
The inspiration behind “Birthday Buddies” was Cruse’s mother, now 100, who has always enjoyed having people pay attention to her birthday.
“The idea came that we could do something to honor Hull’s seniors [on their special day], especially for those who are homebound,” she explained.
The Senior Center provided a list of about 80 seniors who seemed like a good fit for the program. Every month, a Friends volunteer chooses someone who is having a birthday and presents them with a card bearing a friendly message and a small gift they donate themselves.
The volunteer calls the senior the night before to let him or her know to expect a gift to be dropped off the next day.
“I usually buy a treat from Weinberg’s bakery, while others bring flowers or another gift,” Cruse said.
It’s a simple thing to do but means so much to the recipients.
“It’s fun for the seniors and also for the volunteers,” according to Cruse. “We get to meet some really cool people. Sometimes we just drop off a gift, while other times we have an opportunity to have a nice little visit,” according to the recipient’s preference.
It’s important to help celebrate the birthdays of Hull’s older residents to show them that someone is thinking of them “and honoring the value of their lives,” Cruse said. “It brings them a little happiness on their special day.”
Anyone who knows of a senior friend or family member who might enjoy being part of “Birthday Buddies” or who would like to volunteer to help out with the program is encouraged to call Thornton at 781-925-1239.
Donations from the community toward the gifts or cards are welcome. Contributions may be mailed to the Senior Center – with a “Senior Friends” notation – or dropped off there.
“This would help create a little nest egg to [lift the spirits] of a senior who is in a challenging situation, even if it’s not their birthday,” Cruse said.
Senior Friends meets once a month. “It’s a fairly small and interesting group,” Cruse explained. “We talk about our goals, ‘Birthday Buddies,’ what’s happening at the Senior Center and Wellspring, and plan events.”
Next will be another summer block party, now in the planning stages. The first one last year was a huge success.
Other ongoing Friends projects include the Hull “Living Treasures” project – created by Cruse – which gives interested senior citizens an opportunity to record their life stories and fondest memories for their own enjoyment, to share with family and friends, and to preserve them for future generations.
Participants review all of the content before it is finalized.
“It’s a wonderful stroll down memory lane and a special gift to share with loved ones,” Cruse said.
Another Friends activity is reaching out to seniors going through a period of loss with a card, a call, or other gesture of care.
Senior Santa is another popular offering organized by Senior Friends, with generous support from the community.
“We pack bags and bags full of goodies to be delivered during the holiday season to seniors of all denominations,” Cruse said.
The Friends have put together a list of volunteer opportunities, including answering the phone and greeting clients at the Senior Center; helping with the newsletter, arts and crafts, or in the kitchen; assisting seniors with technology; teaching a skill or class; driving the van; running errands; decorating the Center for the holidays; helping to plan special events and trips; visiting or calling seniors; assisting with correspondence; sharing handyman/woman skills; among others.
“We are just beginning, with more projects and volunteers to come!” Cruse said.
Call the Senior Center at 781-925-1239, ext. 6, for further information or to volunteer.