Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We offer to people of good will the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life

We Change Your Life & World

We Provide social support for the elderly

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly serves lonely and isolated elderly in the United States.

For many, isolation comes with growing older. Children move away, a car wears out and is not replaced, or a driver's license is surrendered. This isolation is compounded by poverty.

By visiting, socializing, and offering programs that promote independent living, we strive to meet the emotional and physical needs of our elderly friends. Our programs combat loneliness and help our elderly friends know they are valued and loved.

Our History

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly. We offer to people of good will the opportunity to join the elderly in friendship and celebration of life.

Our history dates back to the mid 1900s with Armand Marquiset of France. Our mission in Greater Cincinnati began in 1996. Each year, LBFE serves hundreds of Tri–state elderly through outreach programs, all designed to relieve isolation and loneliness among the elderly and to assist them in living quality lives.

​Headquartered near Mt. Airy Forest, the Cincinnati chapter serves elderly in over 90 communities across Hamilton and Clermont counties. We currently have more than 450 elderly in our network who we assist in some manner.

Thank you sponsors!

Help The Cause

Join our Next Fundraising opportunity on March 9th!

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly has been the friend and family support to some of the most vulnerable elders in the Greater Cincinnati area, relieving loneliness and isolation, for over 27 years. As we continue to learn of new data and research around loneliness and isolation, it has become quite evident how crucial the work of LBFE is to a population of people facing these issues while also being limited by mobility, transportation, and relationships. As an organization operating solely through volunteer support, private funds, and donations, our signature fundraising events and supporters like you are key!

On Saturday, March 9, 2024, we will host our 27th Anniversary Gala at the Newport Syndicate. This event is a special one as we will be honoring our founder and former leader of 26 years, Thee Ms. Yogi Wess! Join us, as we rally around to celebrate her work and a job so well done while securing the future of her legacy! 

We hope that you will join us in celebration and support our mission at LBFE. 

Other Upcoming Events

Join us in our mission to bring friendship and joy to the lives of the elderly in Greater Cincinnati!

No one should have to experience the pain of loneliness and isolation, especially in their golden years.

Meet Our Staff

Ja’Lah Willingham

Executive Director

Ja’Lah Willingham joins Little Brothers Friends of The Elderly as Executive Director. She comes to the position with 10+ years’ of nonprofit experience from a number of organizations including – Public Allies Cincinnati, Public Allies National, The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, and most recently, Meals on Wheels of Southwest OH & Northern KY. Ja’Lah brings a wealth of knowledge in volunteer management, fundraising, team building, senior advocacy, and organizational and program development.

Outside of the nonprofit sector Ja’Lah is also a proud Xavier Musketeer, Association of Fundraising Professionals Committee Member, Vistage Emerging Leader, and mother of two girls, Jayne and Joy. Ja’Lah enjoys trying new local restaurants and entertainment, fishing, spending time with family,  and dreaming of opportunities for improvement.

Mary "Yogi" Wess

Elderly Services Coordinator

“The mission of Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly is what attracted me to the organization 46 years ago and it is because of the simplicity, strength and beauty of the mission that I remain devoted to the organization.”

Yogi first volunteered for LBFE in 1977 after having received her Associate’s Degree in Human Services from Northern Kentucky University. Not quite sure what she wanted to do with her life, Yogi responded to a need for young interns at LBFE in Chicago. She worked in Chicago for the next 10 years, serving the elderly in some of the most economically depressed parts of the Windy City. While in Chicago, she met another LBFE volunteer, Randy Yauss, who later became her husband.


Yogi and Randy returned to Cincinnati in 1988 where Yogi returned to school to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati. In 1989, the couple began doing the work of LBFE, becoming a “Friends of the LBFE group” and an expansion site of the national office in 1997, ultimately leading to an independent chapter in 2009. Yogi became Executive Director in 2002 and served for 20 years until moving to Elderly Services Coordinator. She is the proud mother of two daughters, Clare and Lucy.

Dawn Carlson

Assistant Director

Dawn joined the Little Brothers – friends of the elderly community in the summer of 23 as a volunteer with her two children.  Dawn brings a passion for volunteerism as well as skills as a Creative Leader and Solution Seeker. She likes to recognize and cultivate the potential in others and brings a wealth of Design and communication experience with her.  

Volunteer experience: Meals on Wheels, Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, Cincinnati Animal Care, Hoxworth Blood drives and Big Brother, Big Sisters.

Shyrle Johnson

Program Coordinator

I am a native Cincinnatian and have lived in Los Angeles California for the past twenty-five (25 years) During my residency in Los Angeles I attended The West College School of Law and obtained ABA credentials as a Certified Paralegal. Throughout these 25 years, I have worked as a Paralegal for a Family Law Judge, Private Attorneys specializing in Family Law, Personal Injury and Civil Law. Lastly, I had the opportunity as a LOSA of working in the legal field of Criminal Law with the Law Offices of the Los Angeles County Public Defenders. I recently retired in May, 2022 from my legal profession and made an infinite decision to move back to my hometown; Cincinnati to be with family. February, 2023 I was invited to the Valentine’s Party given by Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly and had been asked if I could help out with transporting 3 of the Elders that lived near my home. I was glad to do so; anything for the Elders. This is the day that I learned of Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly Mission and what the organization stands for. I could definitely relate to how the organization supports our Elderly that does not have family. While living in LA, my husband passed away in 2007 and a few years later, my only daughter and my only grandson moved back to Cincinnati. I was left all alone with no family; especially living in Los Angeles. However, I thank God for my Los Angeles Church Family. I became part of the Women’s Ministry whose mission catered to our Seniors and Elders of the Church. I worked very closely with the Overseer of the Women’s Ministry by being instrumental in developing and orchestrating, organizing activities and events directed specifically to our Seniors and Elders as well as the Community. I bring my professionalism, my own personal experience of isolation and loneliness strong organizational skills and my love for my Seniors and Elders as an effort to support Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly Mission as Program Coordinator.

Zaire Sims

Volunteer Coordinator

Zaire Sims is a Licensed Master Social Worker. She has several years of experience in the social work field ranging from outpatient and inpatient mental health and service to older adults. She is dedicated to serving older adults with a goal of improving their overall quality of life by utilizing a cultural humility lens considering the intersectionality of the person.  Zaire enjoys the small meaningful conversations and connections and impacts you have with working with older adults. Zaire has learned the importance of helping others through personal experiences of facing adversity. Her commitment to combating social isolation and loneliness is exemplified in her last position as she was able to successfully implement social, health, and educational programs into an independent living apartment complex for older adults following social isolation during the pandemic. She thoroughly enjoys meeting and talking to people and hearing stories from older adults. Building connections and community with people are at the core of her work. Zaire is excited to work with LBFE and to continue our mission.

She brings as positive attitude and creative ideas to the social work field. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2020 with a Master’s degree in Social Work and from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Sciences in Social Work. While in college, she was awarded the inaugural Young Scholar Program’s Outstanding Senior Award, which is named after her, for her academic performance and commitment to service to the Young Scholars Program. In addition, she was awarded the Association for Professionals in Aging Scholarship in 2019. Zaire has received a number of recognitions from the Council of Aging, including the Service Excellence Award. In 2023, Zaire received a letter of reignition from the City of Cincinnati Mayor Aftab, for her commitment to service to older adults in the Cincinnati area.  Zaire is an inaugural graduate of the American Society on Aging Rise Fellow Program, which is a program that trains future leaders in the field of aging through a diversity, equity, inclusion lens. Zaire also currently serves on the board of the Association for Professional on Aging.

During her free time, you can catch her at a Bengals game, in the gym, and during the summer hiking or kayaking.  Zaire has 3 pets, 2 cats, Fari and Zoe, a fish, Al. Zaire enjoys trying new restaurants throughout the Tri-State area.

Board of Directors

Jack Henn

Board Member


Board Member


Board Member

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) now serves the elderly in the Big Apple and is based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn! The Cincinnati chapter is supporting grassroots efforts in New York as this new expansion site grows.
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