The roots of Friends Across the Ages go back to two groups, one founded in 1999, called Friends Across the Ages, and another that began much earlier, in 1983, called the Nursing Home Volunteer Auxiliary (NHVA), which was started by the Gainesville Woman’s Club.
The goal of the NHVA was to fulfill a humane and philanthropic role by providing trained volunteers to enhance the quality of life for residents in nursing homes. Sir James Barrie’s words “Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves” were adopted as the NHVA motto. At one point the NVHA had over 100 members. NHVA volunteers were involved in a variety of projects, including manicures for nursing home residents, birthday celebrations, and friendly visiting. They were the very first community nursing home volunteer organization in Florida.
Friends Across the Ages had similar goals, with a special focus on one-to-one visitation with residents of nursing homes, with the hope of establishing true, mutually beneficial friendships. Originally begun by Steve and Allison Blay as a nursing home volunteer group at their church, they quickly expanded it into a community volunteer organization, open to all.
In 2002, Ruth Hazen (shown above) of the NHVA, contacted the Blays and suggested that the two organizations merge to better serve residents of nursing homes in need. The joint organization, which pooled each group’s energy and resources, goes by the name Friends Across the Ages, Inc.
Over the years, Friends Across the Ages has continued to be a small grassroots organization of volunteers ranging in age from college students to retirees and everywhere in between. The focus has remained on the local Gainesville community, but Friends also strives offer inspiration and encouragement to those in other communities who would like to volunteer or even start a similar program. We invite you to explore the resources offered on this website, and join us in our mission of “bridging generations with ageless friendship.”