Wellness Executive Co-Chairs FriendshipWorks Gala

Denise McQuaide Supports Mission to Reduce Social Isolation and Improve
Quality of Life for Over a Million Seniors in the Boston Area

Woman speaking at podium during event

Benchmark Senior Living, a human connection company and leading provider of senior living services in the Northeast, today announced that Benchmark Wellness Management President and COO Denise McQuaide, serving as co-chair for the FriendshipWorks My Friend, My World anniversary gala celebration and fundraiser on Nov. 21, 2019, helped raise nearly $375,000 for the organization. McQuaide served as co-chair with Andrea Cohen, co-founder and CEO of HouseWorks.

FriendshipWorks is a Boston-based, non-profit human connection organization. For the past 35 years, the company has addressed one of the key issues affecting older adults, social isolation, by offering a variety of volunteer-driven programs, including Friendly Visiting and Friendly Helping, Medical Escorts, PetPals, Relaxing Through the Arts and MusicWorks, La Cadena de Amistad and the Elder Low-Vision Initiative to seniors in the Boston area. These programs make it possible for seniors of all income levels to attend their medical appointments, get their medications, receive help with small tasks, partake in art or music therapy or simply enjoy a visit from volunteers at no cost to them.

Over the past several years, Benchmark has partnered with FriendshipWorks for its Newton area communities as an extension of its own mission to elevate human connection and provide purposeful programming. For example, Chestnut Park at Cleveland Circle, a Benchmark assisted living and memory care community in Brighton, Mass., has been a longtime participant of the FriendshipWorks PetPals program through which residents enjoy weekly visits from a canine. Each week a group of residents participates in exercises with the dog and its owner, increasing their activity and engagement.

In 2018, Benchmark, along with the MIT AgeLab and GE Healthcare, co-sponsored the global In Good Company Optimal Aging Challenge and funded a $5,000 grant awarded to FriendshipWorks for its role in addressing social isolation and loneliness among those over 50.

“Research overwhelmingly shows us that organizations like FriendshipWorks can help overcome social determinants of health – such as lack of social supports, poor nutrition and inadequate transportation – that contribute to preventable ER visits and hospital re-admissions,” says McQuaide. “Something as simple as someone to say hello to regularly or knowing a visitor will stop by can help break a debilitating sense of isolation and loneliness. Not enough can be said about the positive effect of human connection – the invaluable gift that FriendshipWorks has provided for 35 years to Boston-area seniors.”

McQuaide has over 30 years of executive health care experience, having previously served as vice president of post-acute care for Mount Auburn Hospital. Prior to that she served as president of Brickstone Senior Living and COO of Hebrew Senior Life. She also served as senior vice president of operations for New England for Genesis HealthCare, overseeing 60 hospital-based and community skilled nursing facilities and five assisted living communities.

About Benchmark Senior Living
Benchmark is a leading provider of senior living communities in the Northeast with nearly 6,500 associates and 61 communities. Founded in 1997 by Tom Grape, Benchmark offers independent living, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement communities in eight states. The company has been named to FORTUNE magazine’s Best Workplaces for Aging Services list both years it has been published. In 2019, it ranked number five among senior living companies with 50 or more communities. The company has been named to The Boston Globe’s Top Places to Work list every year of the 12 years it has been published. It also has been consistently recognized as a top workplace by Boston Business Journal, Hartford Courant and Hartford Business Journal and as one of the healthiest employers by the Boston Business Journal, Providence Business News and Hartford Business Journal. Visit BenchmarkSeniorLiving.com for more information.

Press contact: Carol Arnold, Arnold Communications, carol@arnoldcomm.com, 603.502.0469.