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Aging Action Initiative Stronger together, we are community  By Joe O’Hehir
Whistlestop CEO

I’m writing to you while sheltering in place from my home in San Rafael. This global pandemic is affecting us all in different ways. Yet, I remain grateful that many of AAI’s community-based organizations remain hard at work helping so many isolated Marin older adults stay connected, safe, and healthy.

How do we stay connected while maintaining physical distancing? Personally, I’m finding that it has thrown me for a loop. I am energized by human contact and group dynamics. While I’m enjoying meeting with staff and my grandchildren on Zoom, technology is no replacement for human-to-human contact. I feel out of sorts when I walk around my neighborhood and just be able to wave and smile at passersby. I miss seeing the friendly faces of our wonderful volunteers, clients, and guests who frequent our temporarily closed Jackson Café and Active Aging Center.

I’m challenging myself to find new ways to stay connected, and I challenge you to do the same. You can take a class via phone through Covia’s Well Connected program, no computer needed! Or, join Whistlestop’s new intergenerational social visiting program, CaringCalls, with local high school students. You might take a virtual museum tour, attend a virtual concert, or simply plan a coffee date by telephone with a friend or family member.

Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our country’s observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark”. This theme encourages and celebrates the countless contributions that older adults provide to our communities. Their time, talent and wisdom benefit many numbers of family, peers, and neighbors every day. This year’s theme tells the story that everyone can make a difference in the lives of older adults and people with disabilities, in support of caregivers, and to strengthen Marin County as an inclusive community.

I want to thank all of our AAI stakeholders for their dedication and service to the Marin community as we continue to grow and expand essential services and support during this challenging time. I’m also touched by the courageous and compassionate humanitarian efforts demonstrated by our community, neighbors, first responders, doctors, nurses, and food purveyors. Unfortunately, it takes an emergency crisis like this to shine a beautiful warm light on these individuals and groups who do this important work every day. Together, we will make it through this crisis and find our way to the other side. And when we do, AAI will still be here for you. I guarantee it.