Documentary: Les Petits Frères -- Flowers Before Bread

Nathalie Brunet and Henri Gauthier smile for the camera. Brunet is one of the many Petits Frères volunteers building friendships with seniors like Gauthier, who may have otherwise faced their 'Golden Years' in isolation.  (David Gutnick)

Nathalie Brunet and Henri Gauthier smile for the camera. Brunet is one of the many Petits Frères volunteers building friendships with seniors like Gauthier, who may have otherwise faced their 'Golden Years' in isolation. (David Gutnick)

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Meals on Wheels can deliver a hot meal. A doctor can prescribe pills. A personal support worker can help with dressing, or a bath.  

All important.

But what many old people need most is a whole lot harder to come by.

A friend.

In Montreal, an organization called les Petits Frères is doing something about that, seeking out lonely isolated seniors and pairing them with younger volunteer friends. 

Everything les Petits Frères does is rooted in the idea that human connection is essential to life. Their motto is "Flowers Before Bread." 

Petits Frères was founded in France right after the Second World War by Armand Marquiset, a wealthy, debonair Catholic intellectual. He set up the volunteer model. He threw lavish parties at his family chateau and invited the old people and their new friends.

The idea spread. Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly - now flourishes in eight countries, though its almost impossible to keep up with the growing demand for what it has to offer. 

But in Canada - and now for 50 years - its only home is in Quebec.

David Gutnick's documentary is called "Flowers Before Bread"

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