Empowering people to thrive as they age.

A Letter from Diane Slezak: AgeOptions President and CEO

September 1, 2020
A Letter from Diane Slezak: AgeOptions President and CEO

Thank you for your contributions to Celebrating Community! Since we are unable to gather for our October fundraising event, we held a virtual event. Humana kicked it off with a generous $50,000 donation as the Presenting Sponsor. Following Humana’s example, our sponsors, supporters and friends went online and made donations to match the $50,000 and help ensure that AgeOptions will continue to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. With your support we raised $100,000 – nearly meeting our goal of $125,000 with a record number of donors. It’s never too late to support our programs and services. Donations are always welcome at: www.ageoptions.org/donate.

Your contributions support our mission and vision to help people Thrive as they Age. Just since the pandemic began with our funded partners we have delivered over one million meals including home delivered meals, grab-and-go meals, Top Box and shelf stable meals.

The older population has been especially hard hit by the pandemic, in terms of illness, deaths and the impact of increased social isolation. Black and Latinx older adults have been especially hard hit. We are laser beam focused on the needs of this population as we develop and implement plans for using the CARES Act funding. During the first weeks of the pandemic we increased meal delivery to all areas with focus on Black and Latinx communities. If you know of anyone in need of home delivered meals or a food box please contact me. In order to address social isolation we expanded our partnerships with libraries to reach deeper into west and south suburban communities. The libraries will use their technology expertise to help bridge the digital divide by offering tablets and assistance with using them to older adults. We will share more about the partnership with libraries in future newsletters. Please see the article on CARES funding for more on what we are doing to address the impact of the pandemic on older adults.

This newsletter is overflowing with updates on all the new initiatives we launched and will build over the coming months. Our Thrive with Pride Cafes have expanded with a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, our Take Charge of Your Health Program has new dates for virtual sessions, the H.O.P.E. Program (Colbert/Williams) has a new logo and brand and new staff members, and the SMP Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Please be sure to take a look at the Volunteer Recognition article. This year we could not hold our traditional recognition event at the William Tell Banquet hall but the volunteers merit your recognition more than ever! Please also be sure to see the link to our 2019 Year in Review which was recently released.

In fresh off the press news – just last week AgeOptions was notified that it was selected to receive a three-year grant supporting innovations in nutrition programs and services from the U.S. Administration for Community Living. The program’s goal is the modernization of the nutrition infrastructure. We will share more in future newsletters!

During July and August we celebrated many notable anniversaries:

  • On July 14, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law. Over the past 50 years, the aging network established and funded by the Act has helped millions of older adults live and thrive in the communities of their choice.
  • Social Security celebrates its 85th year anniversary on August 14. Eighty-five years ago, FDR signed the Social Security Act and created an economic lifeline for the over 63 million seniors, people with disabilities, and families who currently rely on the program to survive. Social Security is not an entitlement but an earned benefit. Without Social Security, two in five older Americans would be living in poverty—including 9 million older adult women and 6.3 million older adult men.
  • Medicare celebrated its 55th anniversary on July 30.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act celebrate its 30th year anniversary on July 26.
  • The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was signed into law 100 years ago on August 18, 1920 however Black Americans did not fully enjoy that right until August 6, 1965 when the Civil Rights Bill was signed into to law.
  • Finally, Emmett Till was murdered 65 years ago on August 28, 1955; he would be 79 years old were he alive today.

As I reflect on each of these landmark/milestone anniversaries, I am humbled both by the
progress we have made and the enormous work we have yet to do.

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