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Friend to Friend at 25 – younger than those it befriends

As Friend to Friend reaches 25 years, it is still many years younger than most of the people its volunteers befriend in long-term care facilities in the Spokane area.

Jan Kendrick
Jan Kendrick

Started in September 1979 by the then Spokane Christian Coalition, this organization promotes one-to-one visits—at least for 15 minutes twice a month—with elderly people. 

Friend to Friend recruits, screens and trains volunteers.  Activity directors in nursing homes match the volunteers with lonely residents who have no family or no family nearby.

More than 300 attended an initial informational meeting about the Friend to Friend program.  For many years, there were more than 100 volunteer visitors.  Now about 50 people volunteer to meet with people in 35 long-term care and assisted living facilities. 

Friend to Friend continued as a ministry under the nonprofit status of the Coalition as it changed to the Spokane Council of Ecumenical Ministries and then the Interfaith Council. 

This year, it will become an independent nonprofit organization. Several times it came to the verge of dissolving, and then the minimum donations needed to keep it going would suddenly come in, said Jan Kendrick, part-time volunteer coordinator since 1992.

“People in long-term care facilities need outside friends, personal contact, a familiar face—even if they may not recognize the person from one visit to the next,” she said.