Friday, October 23, 2009

Reflections from the Field: OLDER is BOLDER

Stacy Sanders, Associate Director of the Initiative, is our guest blogger this week. Find out what she has been up to below!

With November just around the corner, it seems the perfect time to reflect on a blitz of field activity for the Elder Economic Security Initiative (Initiative) this fall. As Associate Director, I have the honor and pleasure to visit WOW’s state partners and participate as the Elder Economic Security Initiative unfolds in their communities.

This September, I traveled to present to the West Virginia Senate Health and Human Resource Committee and the newly established Economic Security and Long-Term Care Taskforce. With funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, this taskforce will bring together stakeholders from across the state to ensure access to long-term care services and supports for elders and disabled persons. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is a key partner in this effort along with many others, including the Senate Committee staff, Community Voices and Vision Shared. The taskforce will draw from the findings of the Elder Economic Security Standard™ Index to establish policy priorities and opportunities for reform related to long-term care and to identify opportunities to better coordinate services in West Virginia’s rural communities. These efforts will bring to the forefront the critical link between economic security and affordable long-term care services and supports.

Also in September, I journeyed to Wisconsin where WOW partnered with the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) to bring a series of financial training workshops to college-age and mid-career women. These workshops incorporated the concepts of “income adequacy” “self-sufficiency” and “economic security” – all of which are critical to WOW’s ongoing efforts to change how policymakers, the media, advocates, service providers and the public-at-large conceptualize and measure economic need. WOW also took part in a legislative seminar hosted by the Wisconsin Women’s Network to educate state policymakers on the Initiative’s successes to date. WOW seeks to empower and educate individuals as well as transform systems. Both are critical to advancing positive social change for elders and their families. This set of Wisconsin events illustrates just how the Initiative makes this possible.

An October trip to the annual convention of the New York Statewide Senior Action Council, Inc. rounded out this year’s travels where the convention theme “OLDER is BOLDER” most certainly rang true! WOW joined its research partner the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Boston in presenting draft Elder Index data to volunteer advocates from across the state. In New York, the Initiative will be a vehicle to inspire and strengthen grassroots advocacy in critical areas of the state. The Elder Index will provide data to help advocates across the state quantify the economic realities facing far too many older adults. For me, this last trip reinforced just how critical it is to engage senior advocates and bring their voice to issues affecting low-income elder in their communities.

As always, I return from these trips re-energized and inspired! This last set of trips also has me re-convinced of the value of an economic security framework for social change.

No comments: