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Mission & History

More than four decades ago, FriendshipWorks—then MATCH-UP Interfaith Volunteers—recognized the need to support older adults who lived in our city.

Who We Are

Mission & History

With rapidly shifting cultural, economic, and family trends over the years, many older adults find themselves isolated or restricted by health or financial issues. These individuals, who may have raised families, worked all their lives, contributed to their communities, or served their country, and built their lives and future in Boston need a unique kind of assistance. 

That’s where FriendshipWorks comes in. 

FriendshipWorks’ mission is to reduce social isolation, enhance the quality of life, and preserve the dignity of older adults in Greater Boston. We have more than four decades of experience recruiting, training, and placing volunteers to provide support and assistance to elders. 

FriendshipWorks was founded as a model program in 1984 with a three-year seed grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This original grant funded a network of congregations of different faiths and social service agencies to prevent unnecessary institutionalization, provide necessary supports, and improve the quality of their lives. 

Throughout its history, FriendshipWorks’ mission has remained constant, even as its services have expanded to meet growing needs. In 1987, we were a founding member of the National Federation of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, to help replicate programs and grow and support a network of interfaith caregiving programs. Eventually, 1300 programs across the country were funded based on the original model. 

In 1991, FriendshipWorks became an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. After two office moves, FriendshipWorks settled into its present space at 105 Chauncy Street in 2003. 

FriendshipWorks has won numerous awards over the years. Most recently, in 2019, Governor Charlie Baker issued a state proclamation recognizing FriendshipWorks for 35 years of service to older adults in Greater Boston. In 2018, FriendshipWorks was a winner of the In Good Company: the Optimal Aging Challenge, a global competition designed to identify breakthrough solutions to social isolation and loneliness among older adults. 

FriendshipWorks now serves all of Boston, Brookline, and Newton, and in July 2020, expanded Friendly Visiting services to include Somerville and Cambridge.

We continue our mission by responding to every unique challenge remaining socially connected in whatever ways we can safely. We invite you to join us by donating, volunteering, referring an elder, and advocating for the work of reducing social isolation among older adults.