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This Friendship is a Slam Dunk!

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This Friendship is a Slam Dunk!

Chris Teal is an esteemed violin virtuoso and an Army veteran who spent 42 years teaching at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music in Nashville. After retiring and relocating to Cambridge in 2014 when he and his wife Allison got married, he found himself missing the vibrant network of friends and colleagues he had cultivated over the years. Sensing he could benefit from more social connection, Allison reached out to FriendshipWorks after learning about it from a social worker.

FriendshipWorks was able to match Chris with Evan Powell, a Friendly Visiting volunteer who had recently moved to Cambridge after graduating from the University of Connecticut. During the pandemic, Evan says, “I recognized the importance of social connection.” In his current position as an actuary, he works from home 60 percent of the time. He was looking for a way to connect to his community while giving back at the same time. Now, Evan and his new friend Chris like to stay active and share their love of music.

Chris says, “I look forward to seeing Evan. I enjoy talking about our lives, career choices, travel, and stories of growing up.” During the warmer weather, you can often find Chris and Evan outdoors on the basketball court at a local park. No need for any fierce competition here: it’s all about the one-on-one conversation while taking aim at the hoop. Explains Chris, “Staying active is important to me. I walk over two miles a day. It’s great to be with someone who loves to walk like I do.” 

Evan enjoys the simple pleasure of Chris’s company. “We don’t do anything too exciting; we just hang out like any friends would — shooting hoops, grabbing a coffee, or something to eat.” But the more time Evan spends with Chris, the more he learns about his older friend. “He is a fascinating guy. When he played violin with the Army Strings he got to play at the White House for the President and other foreign dignitaries!!” The experience has made a deep impression on Evan. “It made me respect older people more than I already did. I appreciate and value their wisdom.”

With your support, hundreds more older adults will be able to reap the health benefits of strong social connection through programs like Friendly Visiting.