Benny Lande: Delivering Friendship and Combating Loneliness


Photo Provided by Benny Lande

Milken Sophomore Benny Lande, founder of Friendship Delivered, a new service project combating loneliness during the pandemic

Spencer Davis, Staff Writer

Since he was a kid, Benny Lande and his family would hop on a plane every three months to visit their grandparents in Philadelphia. This year, things changed. The pandemic hit, and he and his family weren’t able to fly out to visit their grandparents. So, Benny started to call his grandparents every single day. But, as they spoke, he thought about “people who don’t have people, who are living alone,” people with no one to call.

After doing some research into the effects of loneliness, Benny started Friendship Delivered, a new service project combating loneliness during the pandemic. Benny pairs teens with seniors based on their hobbies and interests to create more fulfilling discussions. Then, the volunteer teens are able to call the seniors for weekly 30-minute phone calls, just like Benny and his grandparents.

Friendship Delivered flyer (provided by Benny Lande)

Benny got into contact with the Los Angeles Department of Aging through a contact at Milken, who referred him to some seniors who wanted to work with the organization. In addition, various synagogues, schools, and other organizations have reached out to Benny with more seniors and teen volunteers. Benny has also been working with Shalhevet and USY, the United Synagogue Youth, to find Jewish teens to work with the program, but all teens are welcome. He currently has 20 total volunteer teens and seniors calling weekly, but the program is growing exponentially. “These calls have just been a refreshment and rejuvenation in my life,” Rosetta, a senior working with Friendship Delivered, said. “Every day that I talk to a young person is so meaningful.”

Benny recently won the Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant from the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. The program awards $1,500 to “empower you to play an active role in turning your idea into reality.” They also pair teens with mentors who offer guidance, and create workshops to help teens innovate.

Friendship Delivered logo (provided by Benny Lande)

Some of the grant money has been used to produce the organization’s new logo and advertising. However, he plans to use the remainder of the money to send gifts to the seniors who participate in the program. These gifts could include boxes of chocolate, masks, and more. He says these gifts will not only brighten the seniors’ days, but also offer fun conversation topics for their 30-minute phone calls.

Looking into the future, Benny doesn’t doesn’t plan on stopping past the pandemic. As Benny said, the pandemic has exasperated loneliness, but the issue persists past COVID. Post-pandemic, Benny hopes that the seniors and teens can start to meet in real life. He’s also looking forward to creating themed calls or events, where the seniors and teens can discuss certain topics and play fun games.