FriendshipWorks Answers our Fast Five Questions

FriendshipWorks’ mission is to reduce social isolation, enhance quality of life, and preserve the dignity of older adults in Greater Boston. Since 1984 they have accomplished this by recruiting and training volunteers of all ages, faiths, and backgrounds who provide friendship, advocacy, education, assistance and emotional support.

The image above is a group shot from FriendshipWorks La Cadena Picnic featuring volunteers who engage with Spanish speaking elders seeking support and companionship.

FriendshipWorks strongly believes that regular social contact helps elder and disabled adults maintain and improve general health. As volunteers are matched-up with clients, pairings are selected to encourage social compatibility and differing faiths for mutual education.

Their range of services for elders include music workshops, visiting pet sessions and medical escorts to doctor’s appointments. Many of these volunteers are Spanish speaking, which helps the pairing ease cultural barriers of isolation for elders who lack fluency in English.  In addition, they have a Relaxing Through The Arts program, where volunteers do arts and crafts in senior centers and nursing homes across Boston.  “I would recommend an art class to anyone who wants to relax and to get to know themselves better,” said one of the participants, “What a beautiful reminder that there is always more to learn about oneself, no matter one’s age or journey.”

It was feedback like this which led FriendshipWorks to seek out The Art Connection.  All fifteen of the artworks they received through the Art Donation & Placement Program are on permanent exhibition in their main offices in downtown Boston.  Among their donations is a work from The Art Connection’s founder Fay Chandler and four acrylic paintings by our featured artist Janel Houton.

This painting by The Art Connection’s founder Fay Chandler conintues to be a conversation starter at the FriendshipWorks office.

CT: How did you find out about The Art Connection?
FW: We first heard about The Art Connection in 2004 through fellow colleagues. Just a few months ago, we thought the office could be upgraded with some artwork. That is when we thought of contacting The Art Connection again to see if we could obtain some more art to spruce up our offices!

CT: What has been the most surprising or satisfying part about working with The Art Connection?
FW: The most satisfying part about working with The Art Connection is the friendliness we received and the end result that beautified our space!

CT: What parts of the selection process did you enjoy?
FW: We really enjoyed the flash round during the Placement Visit; going through each image and saying yes or no was fun, like a game, and made the decision process easier.

“Riverside Birches” one of the four paintings donated to FriendshipWorks by artist Janel Houton.

CT: What’s a little known fact about your organization?
FW: Since its inception, FriendshipWorks has assisted over 23,400 Boston-area elders, providing almost half a million hours of donated care. This represents a value of more than $10,442,500 worth of care.

CT: How the presence of artwork has impacted your agency?
FW: The presence of artwork has impacted our agency in a positive way, especially with our volunteers and guests. As our volunteers and guests await the person they are meeting with, they sit and look around the office. Since receiving art, we have consistently gotten wonderful comments about the artworks displayed. We love getting the chance to tell them about how we got this art through The Art Connection!

You can find out more about FriendshipWorks online at

Two FriendshipWorks participants connect in the park.