Meet Your Neighbor: Brian Martens - QCH Volunteer Highlight

On the month that we are reminded of Dr. King’s emphasis on service, Queens Community House highlights Brian Martens, one of our volunteers for QCH’s Friendly Visiting Program.

Just about two years ago, Brian found himself overwhelmed by life and work situations that he could not control. This led him to explore volunteer opportunities to give back, an effort that he’d have full control of while making a positive impact on the community. One day, Brian was walking in Forest Hills, and he ended up helping an older adult with some directions. This brief exchange gave him the idea to connect with older adults, and QCH’s Friendly Visiting Program was a perfect match for him.

Once a week, Brian connects with long-time QCH participant Bernard by phone, and they chat about sports, politics, experiences living in New York, and their shared love for concerts. On good weather days, Brian would also occasionally meet with Bernard at a nearby park, but during the pandemic, they’re doing just fine with their phone calls. One part of their relationship Brian hopes to resume after the pandemic is going to Bernard’s recitals to support his passion and joy for singing.

Outside of QCH, Brian enjoys engaging in volunteer activities with his son, including clean-ups from Rockaway Beach to Forest Park, but his involvement in QCH’s Friendly Visiting Program is the first volunteer experience he’s had on an ongoing basis.

Brian sees the benefit of volunteering for both Bernard and himself, especially during the pandemic. In a time of uncertainty, they can count on their phone call every week for a sense of normalcy.

“It really grew into a friendship. Each week, we both look forward to that phone call.”

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