Serving up a two-for-one deal, Sandy Bufis and Suzanne Loveland are the brains and driving forces behind InterFaith Works of Central New York’s One-to-One program.
Having a friendship that stems back over 30 years, Sandy and Suzanne identified the need to develop a program that would help build a community of companionship for seniors to seek out as they age.
The duo has championed the cause of isolation in aging and in the process rallied a growing cadre of advocates for their movement.
Sandy and Suzanne were inspired to begin the One-to-One program through their experience with a 78-year-old friend who was living alone, with no family and very limited resources. As their friend struggled through various health issues, Sandy and Suzanne saw firsthand the many financial and social challenges seniors face as a result of aging. They grew to understand how a single health event can trigger rapid frailty, and learned that the simple act of friendship can make all the difference in the world.
One-to-One is a program formed out of the InterFaith Works of CNY organization which matches trained and compassionate volunteers with isolated nursing home residents who may not have the support of family, friends or faith communities. Thinking of the program as a social network for seniors, it provides an opportunity to link cross-generational volunteers with seniors who often don’t have anyone to talk to. It allows for friendships to develop and creates a sense of informal protection for isolated seniors. The duo says simply about the project, “it makes a difference and gives hope.”
Sandy and Sue convened a task force of senior services professionals to analyze the needs of isolated elders and crafted a mission and strategic plan to seek organizational support for their cause. Through their passion and leadership, they have built a successful collaboration with InterFaith Works of CNY, who is the sponsor agency for One-to-One, and The Nottingham Senior Residences, which hosts their volunteers. Their efforts to educate people on the issue of isolation in aging resulted in securing start-up funding to staff the One-to-One program. One-to-One has the potential to touch the lives of hundreds of seniors in Central New York, offering friendship and support to the aging population.
Donations for the One-to-One project will feed through the InterFaith Works of CNY organization to help further develop the program and coordinate more volunteer staff to take on the task to help improve the overall quality of life for seniors.
Sandy Bufis and Suzanne Loveland are using their life experiences to "be the change they want to see in the world."
Though they are both retired from careers in disability services, they have never truly stopped working. Instead, they have rededicated themselves to address a growing need among an often forgotten population through their work with InterFaith Works of CNY.