CINCINNATI CHAPTER STAFF
MARY "YOGI" WESS
"The mission of Little Brothers–Friends of the Elderly is what attracted me to the organization thirty five 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 five 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 1985 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" in 1995 and an expansion site of the national office in 2002, ultimately leading to an independent chapter in 2009. Yogi became Executive Director in 2002, a role she continues to hold today. She is the proud mother of two daughters, Clare and Lucy.
Elderly Services Coordinator
"I have loved working for Little Brothers because of all the wonderful elderly and volunteers I have met over the years, and because it has a clear mission that can be carried out simply and directly
with little bureaucracy."
Randy joined Little Brothers in 1979 in Chicago and immediately fell in love with their mission and motto "flowers before bread." He married a Little Brother (Yogi Wess) who he met in Chicago in 1982 and who was also from Cincinnati. They worked for LBFE and lived in a group home for developmentally disabled men until 1989 when they returned to Cincinnati. Randy has a BA degree in social work from Thomas More College and worked at Adult Protective Services in Clermont County from 1991 until they opened LBFE in Cincinnati in 1997. He has been with LBFE since then as director and presently serves as elderly services coordinator.
In November 2018, I was looking for a place to do some volunteering and discovered Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, so I contacted them to learn more about the organization. The warm and friendly response I got to my initial inquiry about volunteering immediately made me realize I was looking at the right place. After learning more about the mission of LBFE, I knew this was what I wanted to do and started as a visiting volunteer. That was when I met my new friend, Joan, and began seeing her on a regular basis.
Sometime later, I learned that LBFE was looking for someone to help in the office on a part-time basis and I jumped at the chance to get more involved in LBFE. Somehow, I convinced Yogi to take a chance on me as an employee! I continued to work my full-time job in the legal field and worked part-time for LBFE. Moving forward, we discussed the opportunity of working full-time with LBFE and I made the decision to leave my decades-long career and join LBFE on a full-time basis. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made!
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with Yogi, Randy, and all of our wonderful volunteers. Talk about a special group of people! The mission of LBFE touches my heart and being more involved with our elderly friends has been the greatest gift of all.