HelpAge USA Receives New Grants Totaling $200,000 for Friendship Bench DC

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2023 — HelpAge USA, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the well-being and inclusion of older people, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded two generous grants from both Next50 Initiative and The Washington Home, totaling $200,000, to support the launch of Friendship Bench DC.

Next50, a national foundation based in Colorado that supports efforts to improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers, has awarded HelpAge USA a $100,000 grant. Their Advancing Equity in Aging fund provides financial support for organizations that serve and/or seek to serve historically marginalized communities.

In addition to Next50’s support, HelpAge USA has received a $100,000 grant from The Washington Home, which provides funding to entities that create and deliver innovative, compassionate, and well-managed programs to improve the quality of life for older and/or terminally ill residents in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. This grant will also support the Friendship Bench DC pilot program.

Modeled on the Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe created by Dr. Dixon Chibanda, Friendship Bench DC aims to bridge the mental health gap in Washington, DC, by training older volunteers to provide support to community members of all ages. The first benches will be set up in safe community spaces for people aged 16 and older to come visit and find a listening ear starting in early 2024.

“We are immensely grateful for the generous support from Next50 and The Washington Home for Friendship Bench DC,” said Cindy Cox-Roman, president and CEO of HelpAge USA. “There is a mental health crisis in our country and many people just need a listening ear to feel better. Learning from Friendship Bench in Zimbabwe, we recognize that older people are uniquely suited to provide lay support through trained listening skills and helping people solve their own problems. Our volunteers know that life can be tough and want to make sure that no one feels alone. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, interventions like Friendship Bench DC are a much-needed way of helping our community feel more connected and supported.”

HelpAge USA has a longstanding commitment to promoting the rights and well-being of older people and works tirelessly to support their needs and desire to contribute to their community.

For more information about HelpAge USA and its initiatives, please visit helpageusa.org.

About HelpAge USA
HelpAge USA is a nonprofit that advances the rights, well-being, and inclusion of older people around the world. As part of the HelpAge Global Network, HelpAge USA works to ensure that the contributions of all older people are recognized, and they have the right to a healthy, safe, and secure life.

About Next50
Next50 is a national, private foundation based in Colorado that supports efforts to improve the lives of older adults and their caregivers. The foundation works with community leaders, experts in the field of aging, and front-line professionals to support innovative programs and projects that positively impact aging and longevity. To learn more, visit www.Next50Initiative.org.

About The Washington Home
The Washington Home (TWH) is a DC-based foundation that seeks to improve the lives of older people and those facing end of life, strengthen senior communities, and reduce inequality in access to care. Our philanthropic vision is grounded in a commitment to pursue caregiver support, enhance connection, and foster respect and dignity for seniors. We invest in local, community efforts to address social isolation, caregiver relief, food insecurity, and specialized healthcare for seniors and the critically ill. Learn more at thewashingtonhome.org.

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