Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Responding to the Senior Boom

How do we respond to the growing senior boom in metro Atlanta? We respond through innovation, collaboration and engagement.

First, innovation is not often a word we use as much in aging services. But “doing things the way we’ve always done it” is unacceptable given the rising tide of the aging boom. I am proud of our team for providing innovative solutions this year to inadequate resources in Meals On Wheels Atlanta, for instance. The MOWA team increased its focus on volunteerism and has seen an increase in retention rates as a result. They also launched the Meals-In-Motion Pantry which provides donated canned foods to seniors who are appropriate for a grocery program instead of home delivered meals.

Collaboration is a buzz word we all love to use in nonprofit circles. I am proud, however, that SCS continues to work on collaborations, no matter how challenging the relationship. Our wellness collaboration with Visiting Nurse Health System, Kaiser Permanente, Emory’s Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression, and a number of other organizations has produced tangible health outcomes in the lives of our seniors. As the host agency for the Atlanta Home Repair Network, we are constantly working to ensure that senior homeowners who need repairs performed on their houses receive services from us or from other nonprofit providers that help in other parts of the City or in specific ways that we cannot.

Engagement is like collaboration, but in this sense I am more focused on the community at large. More and more individual donors are engaging in the mission of Senior Citizen Services because they appreciate the direct effect that their donations make on lives of seniors in need. Volunteers appreciate being utilized in an efficient and meaningful manner. Community organization, Universities and schools, churches and synagogues, neighborhood associations and civic clubs are welcomed partners because of SCS’ approach that is inclusive and honoring of the experiences of various neighborhoods and traditions.

So you can see that innovation, collaboration and engagement have been a key to our success and will continue to be vital as we seek to meet the needs of a dramatically growing population. We look forward to the challenge and invite each Atlantan to join in the mission!

-- by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director

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