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Aging Action Initiative How Was Your Summer?  How was your summer vacation?

Thanks for asking! For me, armed with a vaccination and a mask, vacation meant a chance to connect with family, do some travelling, and see grandsons we haven’t seen in a couple of years. We flew in a plane, stayed in a hotel, took the train home, had those same grandsons stay with us a week, and then camped with them and four young families in Sonoma. At the end, the youngest grandson asked, “Grandma, next summer, when I’m 8, can I come back and stay with you again?” …YES!!

Thanks to the federal order to wear a mask in a transportation facility, we felt safe in the airports and airplanes and trains. The frontline workers in transportation did brave jobs in dealing with those few who didn’t wear a mask in order to make a statement.

One angry woman on the train somewhere around King City snapped, “I’m not going to wear a mask. You’re not the boss of me.”  The exasperated conductor responded: “No, but I am the conductor, which makes me the boss of the train. And you have to calm down and wear a mask.”

The transportation workers, like grocery store workers, don’t deserve having to deal with people behaving badly as they rage against the situation we’re all in. It felt wonderful to arrive back home, where 90+% of people 12 and older have received at least their first dose.

With vacation comes the post-vacation: back to the camaraderie and purpose of work. I’m talking about the annual Aging Action Initiative Convening!

AAI’s 2021 convening – our premier event of the year when we come together from our different sectors of healthcare, community-based services, education, and public agencies will be on Thursday, September 30, on zoom. We are expanding our partnership with Marin Center for Independent Living and other organizations working with people with disabilities. Our equity focus will be about learning about aging through the eyes of immigrants, both those who are older today, and those who are working in the service industries to provide care to Marin County residents.

Two keynote speakers will teach and inspire us: Louise Aronson, UCSF geriatrician and professor, author of Elderhood and opinions for the New York Times and Fernando Torres-Gil, son of migrant farmworkers, UCLA professor, advisor to presidents, and LA community volunteer.

The plenary session, hosted by Diana Lopez, chair of the Marin Commission on Aging, will be an overview of the Master Plan on Aging and a look at innovations in the four North Bay counties.

We will have five breakout sessions this year:

Disparities in healthcare for older immigrants with moderator Aaron Alarcon-Bowen, Executive Director, Contra Costa county Community Services Bureau

Aging-in-Community, with moderator Ruth Ramsey, Dean of Health and Natural Sciences, Dominican University

Advocacy for Housing in the Housing Element Updates, with moderator Sara Robinson, Marin Age-Forward Coordinator

Aging with Disabilities, with moderator Eli Gelarin, Executive Director, Marin Center for Independent Living

All about Trauma-Informed Work, with moderator Julia Hales, One Door/ADRC Administrator, Marin Center for Independent Living

I’ll speak about what AAI achieved last year and look ahead to changes in what will be an exciting 2022 for our network.

And we’ll talk together to listen and learn about the challenges on the horizon for older immigrants and for immigrants who are the caregivers and service workers enabling Marin’s quality of life.

Last month, as my little family entourage travelled by Amtrak through El Paso, we saw the towering steel border wall, the black SUVs patrolling the parallel roadway and the enormous towers covered with high tech sensors that listen and watch for people coming to the U.S. We saw farmworkers working the fields from Arizona to California that provide the food on our dinner plates. And as I went back to work, I heard about people reading the IJ obituaries to find out names of potential caregivers, many of whom are immigrants. We have a lot to reflect on as we learn about the inequities facing immigrants to Marin.

How was your summer vacation? I hope it reconnected you to people you love, refreshed you for another pandemic year, and recharged you for the work before us. Reaching across our sectors, we can do this.

See you at the convening ~