Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chill Out

This month’s AARP magazine continues its ongoing series about decreasing one’s stress in these times of uncertainty. An unusual amount of stress, physical and/or emotional, has been shown to make the body more vulnerable to disease and many illnesses. Experts agree on these proven strategies for beating stress, and SCS wishes to share these with our readers:

1. Socialize: see friends, relatives; stay connected.
2. Let it out: talk, laugh, cry, get angry!
3. Exercise regularly.
4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
5. Add activities such as reading, playing music, and gardening to your daily schedule.
6. Gain perspective: remember past hardships that you’ve overcome.
7. Enjoy small escapes such as movies and TV.
8. Practice slow, deep breaths.
9. Try yoga or meditation.

The SCS mission is to enable seniors to enjoy a high quality of life, maintaining their independence and dignity. People of all ages can enjoy a higher quality of life with these tips.

By Brad Catherman
Vice President, Gift Planning
Senior Citizen Services

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Older Americans Month is Full of Activities at SCS

Each year in May, America celebrates “Older Americans Month.” In this year’s proclamation, President Obama said:

Older Americans have carried our Nation through great challenges and triumphs. They have enriched our national character and strengthened the Republic for those who have followed. During the month of May, we pay tribute to the wisest among us.

Throughout the land, older Americans are strengthening our communities and the American way of life. Many senior citizens remain in the workforce to support themselves and their families. Others are embarking on second careers and exploring new interests and fields of knowledge. Inspiring citizens of all ages, many serve as advocates and volunteers in community service roles. In this important work, they make a real difference in the daily lives of fellow citizens of all ages, while promoting and strengthening the American spirit of civic participation.

On Saturday, April 25, more than 300 volunteers swept through Atlanta repairing seniors’ homes in our annual SWEEP! Day celebration. Participants cleaned up yards by raking leaves, mowing grass, trimming bushes, and picking up trash. Others painted the interior and exterior of homes for seniors who can’t do that work for themselves anymore. Some people cleaned up after a recent fire in a senior’s home.

On Sunday, May 3, each of our eight Neighborhood Senior Centers celebrated Friends & Family Day at their center. Guests for invited for an afternoon of fun and fellowship that included games, craft making, pictures, programs, and lunch.

On Saturday, May 16, SCS continues its celebration of Older Americans Month with our inaugural geneRACEtion 5K Run/Walk in Grant Park. Participants are invited to raise money for SCS and for Rainbows Georgia. Runners/walkers are still needed. Register at www.geneRACEtion.org.

Lastly, think about a senior that has influenced your life. Maybe that is a grandparent, a Sunday school teacher, a neighbor that fought in a war. Tell them how much you appreciate them during Older Americans Month.
-- by Steve Hargrove, Director of Events and Marketing

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Dream Team Is Up For the Challenge

As I look over our strategic goals set in 2005 during the organization’s first comprehensive Strategic Plan in more than a decade, I tend to focus on the more dramatic changes at Senior Citizen Services. Our financial stability, our diversified revenue development, our dramatic growth in volunteerism and program outputs (homes repaired, meals delivered, etc.).

What I don’t think I have done enough of, is praise our amazing staff for their gifts, increased attention to quality and trust, and passion for our mission. Don’t get me wrong, our donors and volunteers are our bread and butter; the board has raised the bar, our amazing committees and chairs are legendary in Atlanta, and where would we be without our seniors? But our staff deserves special attention.

Goal #1 of our Strategic Plan included the following objective:
1. Identify and implement strategies that raise the level of expertise of the staff team and the Board of Trustees
We recognized during the planning process that a staff that is passionate about their work and has the knowledge and training in their respective fields to be leaders that these factors would combine toward ensuring the organization has the capacity to grow.

How do we know we’re improving?

• We have more team members with specific experience and accomplishments in their fields than five years ago—Anne Foster, our New Horizons Center Manager, had been in critical positions and served on boards of other aging-related organizations before coming our way. Brad Catherman was a well established and well recognized Gift Planning Officer at Marist before coming to SCS.

• Team members complete more training objectives every year than ever before. Whether it is Neena Malone receiving intensive training from Meals On Wheels Association of America or Greg Davis becoming a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) for Home Repair Services, we continue to learn and implement best practices.
• Our collaborations have increased. Initiating the Home Repair Network or the Senior Centers Wellness Collaborative are two examples of how we convene experts and partners to strengthen our programming and knowledge. Partners get involved and stay involved when we have responsive and organized leadership involved.

These are a few examples of how vital our staff is in our service provision. Our team tends to recognize other stakeholders when it comes to praise—the volunteers, the seniors, the donors. Yes, these are vitally important constituents, but now more than ever we have the right team to meet the needs of Atlanta seniors going forward. They are capable. They are compassionate. They are dedicated. And they appreciate diversity within the team atmosphere.

Hats off to you, Team SCS, for raising the bar. You challenge me, impress me, support me, and push me and others to do everything we can for vulnerable seniors. You are the safety net—thank you for all you do.
- by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director