Assuring that everyone, regardless of age or ability, has the opportunity to have a life rich in meaning and purpose. This is a fundamental belief and part of the vision that was the foundation for “A Heart to Serve,” a program developed by residents and staff at Rockport Healthcare Services and shared at past Pioneer Network conferences and in newsletters. It is also most certainly a part of the vision held by all organizations and individuals working along-side Pioneer Network to change the culture of aging.
Sharing a vision is a start…but putting that vision into action, that’s where the magic happens!
It was at the 2017 annual Pioneer Network conference where leadership from Rockport Healthcare Services and Pioneer Network first began planning the Community Commitment Award, an award that would recognize members of the long-term care community for volunteer service benefiting not only the residents living in their communities, but their communities at-large — their towns, their neighborhoods, their states — the world!
At the 2018 Pioneering a New Culture of Aging Conference, this plan became a reality.
Monday morning’s opening general session, “Creating Community: It Takes a Team” culminated in the presentation of the first annual Community Commitment Awards.
Thirteen organizations had submitted applications for this award — each sharing stories of remarkable work being done. For the judges, representatives from Pioneer Network and Rockport Healthcare Services, including Elders, it was no easy task determining the award recipients, but a decision had to be made.
The programs chosen by the judges represent diversity in resident populations, geographic location as well resources, both human and financial. We believe they demonstrate the possibilities that exist and that through sharing their stories, we not only inspire others in our field to develop programs supporting community commitment, but we send a message to those who do not always see the value of Elders. There is no doubt that the Elders who are a part of these three programs are role models for the rest of us!
2018 Community Commitment Award Recipients
Foulkeways at Gwynedd
Senior Scholars is a program in which residents serve as faculty to students who come to Foulkeways at Gweynedd as a clinical site through the colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. Residents teach students about health problems, age-related changes or a health-related subject that they have a passion to educate others about.
Many Health Care & Rehab
The Animal House Club is a group of residents, staff, and family members from Many Healthcare & Rehab, staff from the Parish Humane Society Shelter, and friends from the community who have come together to work toward a common goal, “to love, care for and protect our furry friends to the best of our ability.” The program has many facets, with the highlight being the “TLC Program,” in which club members foster kittens and puppies.
We Day/Free the Children Committee
The We Day/Free the Children Committee was developed based on the belief that anyone of any age and ability can change the world. This committee provides a means for Elders to mentor and work together with youth on projects, such as the City of Saskatoon’s public campaign to create a greener community, that are changing the world in their local community. Working together, Elders and students create relationships that promote sharing, learning, mentoring, giving and receiving of care.
2018 Community Commitment Award Special Recognition
Though this organization didn’t meet the criteria for the award, the judges felt that special recognition should be given to Scandinavian Living Center (SLC), an assisted living community in Newton, Massachusetts. For SLC, community commitment goes beyond a program or a project; it is the foundation of the model — and the culture — on which the community was built. A community-centered model, SLC houses Elders in 40 assisted living apartments and includes a cultural center, businesses, nonprofits, and even a pop-up café — all open to and focused on serving the community at large.
The SLC has more than 2,000 visitors each month come through its doors to participate in programs, visit businesses or other activities. It provides a consistent and organic connection for the residents to the outside community on their terms, decreasing isolation and allowing them to continue to pursue their interests and be a part of their community.
We hope that the work of the Elders and staff in these communities has inspired you. Perhaps you are already engaged in a program supporting community commitment, or one of these programs sounds like something that would be right for your community. Or maybe you have a great new idea just waiting to be developed.
Whatever it is for you, don’t hide your light under a bushel. Share what you are doing — or reach out to others who might be able to lend a hand as you work through growing a program.
Find a way to make it happen. Our Elders deserve nothing less.
Note: To learn more about each of the programs, click on the community name or go to the Community Commitment Tab on the Pioneer Network Annual Conference page.