Friendship Bench DC Host Partners

Host partners are DC-based nonprofit organizations that offer the Friendship Bench DC service on their premises. Check out our list of host partners and find a Friendship Bench DC location near you.

Washington Seniors Wellness Center

3001 Alabama Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20020

The Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church

3000 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20020

Arthur Capper Senior Center

900 5th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003

The SEED School

4300 C Street SE
Washington, DC 20019

Interested in becoming a host partner?

Are you a DC nonprofit organization interested in offering the Friendship Bench DC service at your location? As a host partner, HelpAge USA provides and places benches on your premises for free (unless there is an existing bench that you would prefer to use). There is also no charge for visitors to use Friendship Bench DC.

To learn more, read the FAQs below or contact Jeffrey Prost-Greene, Program Manager, at jprostgreene@helpageusa.org or 202-709-8730.


Friendship Bench DC provides a way for people to confidentially share their story with an older person and know they will receive empathy, respect, and understanding. Friendship Benches will be placed in safe community spaces in Washington, DC.

We welcome partnerships with local organizations (e.g., social services, faith-based communities, schools, etc.) who can offer Friendship Bench DC to the people they serve. The benches will be “staffed” one or more days each week with older people known as "grandparents" who have been trained to listen and express empathy to those struggling with difficult thoughts and feelings.

Flyers will be available for each host partner to build awareness about Friendship Bench DC as a resource, conveying that the grandparents are not mental health professionals. Rather, they have been trained as laypeople to provide a confidential listening ear and sense of belonging in the community.

Visitors can sign up to meet with a Friendship Bench DC grandparent who is sitting at the bench or be referred by staff. One of the first questions the grandparent will ask is: “Tell me your story.” A set of screening questions will help determine if a visitor needs to be referred to a higher level of care. However, experience shows that most people just need a listening ear to feel better.

Our grandparents have completed bi-weekly training sessions held over the course of 10 weeks. There are three levels of training that allow them to provide different types of support to different groups.


  • In Level One, grandparents learn the basics of mental health and listening skills.
  • In Level Two, grandparents learn how to recognize symptoms and refer to a higher level of care if needed.
  • In Level Three, grandparents learn how to provide basic problem-solving therapy to help people find workable solutions to the issues that are causing them to be anxious or depressed.

Training and supervision has been provided by Dr. Dixon Chibanda, who pioneered the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe, in collaboration with local mental health professionals.

This depends on the individual, but evidence from the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe shows that most people feel better after four to six sessions.

A HelpAge USA Program Facilitator will work with each organization to determine the optimal days/times to arrange for a Friendship Bench DC grandparent to be available.

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