From Program Director Linda Jackson:
As 2018 comes to an end, it’s time to take a moment to recognize what the Aging Action Initiative achieved this year. We started out the year with a new strategic direction to educate, advocate, and innovate with people working across sectors so that all older people in Marin will live long and live well, as the Commission on Aging says. I am grateful to be able to say that, through our workgroups and advocacy, we ended 2018 with significant growth in our network, expanded programs, and successful influence in public policy.
In January, the Marin County Board of Supervisors, resolving that “we take the time to acknowledge the older adults living here,” proclaimed 2018 “The Year of the Older Adult.” Let’s begin by highlighting just two major accomplishments during this Year of the Older Adult: the Marin Cultural Association’s 80 over 80 exhibit, featuring 80 works of art by local artists who are 80 and older, and the Board of Supervisors’ decision to move forward to join the World Health Organization’s global network of age-friendly communities.
AAI is about education, advocacy, and innovation for changes. This happens through our networks and collaborations. Our premier networking event, the 2018 AAI Convening, had more people than ever (over 100!) joining a day of networking, equity training, a debrief of learnings from the American Society of Aging conference, and advocacy.
AAI’s Inform&Connect academies continued to expand. We had our first collaboration with partner organization Marin Interfaith Council for an Inform&Connect academy for religious leaders in Marin. Sixty-five people signed up for this event held at the Dominican Sisters. Speakers covered resources about dementia and mental health, caregiving, and housing.
Our two fall workshops for front-line workers about resources in Marin for older adults had a combined attendance of more than 75 people. This year, we extended an invitation to all of Marin’s cities and towns to participate. Librarians from six jurisdictions and one police aide joined us!
The Inform&Connect workgroup and the many speakers who volunteered donated over 900 hours to the success to the academies.
This year, AAI began to present the innovative homegrown Detect&Connect workshop in the community. Volunteer facilitators held workshops at the Mill Valley Community Centers and at Marin Humane.
In November, AAI received the wonderful news that it will receive a grant to scale up the program throughout the county. The AAI network spoke up to say that the next round of ‘innovation grant’ funding for mental health services should specifically help older people in Marin. After over a year of advocacy, we are now in partnership with County Behavioral Health and Resources Services staff. The grant will let us bring Detect&Connect to businesses, groups, and organizations across Marin so that people can better connect with people who have mental health challenges and connect them with services.
Our advocacy took off this year. In addition to funding for mental health, we spoke up in favor of senior housing, transportation needs, and protections for older renters. And we had wins: housing in Larkspur for seniors who were homeless, assisted living in downtown San Rafael, benches and shade preserved in downtown San Rafael, the start of protections for renters in most jurisdictions, and the passage of Measure AA for transportation funding.
The Commission on Aging released a report written in collaboration with AAI: Older Adult Housing in Marin: Planning for 2030.
Our visibility increased this year as we asked elected leaders to prepare age-friendly plans for their communities. Including the County, ten of the 12 jurisdictions in Marin have adopted, or have started, an age-friendly planning effort. Both the County and the Town of Ross joined the international age-friendly network. Through age-friendly plans, community leaders will be able to look through the lens of aging equity and support changes for the older people in their cities and towns.
The AAI community now numbers over 125 organizations from across the public, nonprofit and healthcare sectors. We launched our Facebook page and expanded our online resource library, your go-to place for data and research that you can use in your work.
This work matters. AAI is the only organization in Marin bringing together everyone working so that every older person is safe, healthy and engaged. The Aging Action Initiative is making the difference as you make new professional and personal connections, build new partnerships, and create innovations to transform the opportunities for aging in Marin.
We include this month an article by Commissioner Chrisula Asimos about isolation and the importance of human connections. This is an important time of the year for many of the clients and families you work with. Chris reminds us to appreciate our friendships and relationships, and to be kind, to be mindful and to replenish ourselves.
In gratitude for everything you did as part of AAI’s work and in your own work in 2018 Year of the Older Adult.