February 17, 2015

SAGE's Statement on the OAA Reauthorization

While SAGE is deeply disappointed that amendments to make the Older Americans Act (OAA) LGBT-inclusive are not advancing in the new session of Congress, we nonetheless support the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee’s decision to move forward on reauthorization of the Act. 

The committee’s vote demonstrates bipartisan support for this critical law, which contributes in important ways to the ability of Americans to age in their communities with the services and supports that they need.  We applaud members of Congress – including Senator Bennet, Senator Baldwin, Senator Sanders, and Representative Bonamici – who have championed much-needed amendments to the Act that would have designated LGBT older adults as a population of greatest social need and required more data collection and accountability to ensure that the OAA’s critical services and supports are LGBT-inclusive. 

While we are disappointed the bill that is currently advancing will not include these important amendments, SAGE recognizes that continued delays in reauthorization of the Older Americans Act will hurt older people throughout the country without increasing the chances for LGBT inclusion.   SAGE will continue to work energetically to draw attention to the unique needs of LGBT older adults and advocate aggressively that all relevant federal laws and programs address these needs.

For more information on SAGE's work on the OAA, click here.

February 10, 2015

A Quick Chat With SAGE Participant Sheila Slaughter

Our monthly “Quick Chats” with SAGE participants offer a first-person perspective on our community.  This month, we spoke with Sheila Slaughter, a 51-year-old bisexual New Jersey resident and participant in our SAGEWorks employment program. Because workforce discrimination can begin as early as the 40’s, SAGEWorks serves participants who are aged 45 and up. Sheila is a recent graduate of our two-week SAGEWorks Boot Camp program, an intensive training course that provides skills needed for job placement. She spoke with us about her personal philosophies, creative projects, and what SAGEWorks has meant to her. 

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Sheila! How did you first become aware of SAGE?

I found out about SAGE as part of my job search process. 

And what kind of work are you looking for?

My career has been predominantly in the nonprofit sector. I’m an office manager and have worked with runaway homeless youth, substance abuse prevention, and other kinds of organizations. I enjoy diverse work experiences and I think support work really lends itself to a lot of different environments. 

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Sheila Slaughter at the SAGE Center Midtown

 

How long have you been in that field?

All my life! It kind of found me. I was a runaway homeless youth and the Educational Alliance's Youth Board Program had an 18-month residence for young women. The Director took me under her wing and got me my first office job. That was in 1981. 

What else do you do? Any hobbies or creative pursuits?

I’m a blogger! I blog at bohemianwomanrising.com 

I love the title!

Thank you! If you look up “bohemian”, it means people who challenge spurious social constructs. We ask “Why do we dress girls in pink and boys in blue?” for example. My blog celebrates women’s intellectual history, health and wellness, and spirituality / spiritual sovereignty (as opposed to religion). 

So when you found SAGEWorks, you were on a job hunt…

I still am! LOL! 

And what’s your dream job?

Working with elderly people or youth—I need to be around people. I think both elderly people and youth are marginalized. If you’re not working our society doesn’t see value in you, because you’re not making money and contributing to the economic infrastructure. 

So you are pursuing work that addresses that.

Yes, work that helps others feel empowered. My ideal job would in some way bring the two groups together. There’s much we could learn from each other. If that were to happen I think quality of life would improve, and hopefully preconceived biases diminished. 

Do you have a guiding philosophy about work?

Just keep moving forward—it doesn’t matter if it’s a baby step or a giant leap—just keep moving in the right direction. Mostly, we tend to identify ourselves through our work, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines us. 

I agree! So, what was the most important thing you took away from the SAGEWorks Boot Camp?

Camraderie. It was encouraging to be around other 40-plusers. When you’re in our age group and looking for a job, it can be isolating. So the support group and connection to a cohort was important. The facilitator, Howard Leifman was highly knowledgeable. He imparted great information. Michele and Zoraida [SAGEWorks Staff members] were awesome too! The program was a welcome relief from the angst of the job search. 

Anything else you want to add?

I’d like to thank the SAGEWorks team yet again! 40-plusers entering the job market can encounter culture shock—so much has changed. SAGEWorks helps to ease the transition.  

-- Posted by Kira Garcia 

February 6, 2015

The Official Launch of Our National Housing Initiative

Our new national LGBT older adult housing initiative is up and running! On February third we welcomed housing leaders from across the country for a panel discussion launching a five-part strategy to alleviate the housing crisis impacting LGBT older people throughout the U.S. An album of images from the event is online here

Speakers included marriage equality icon and former SAGE board member Edie Windsor, who recalled working on housing issues as early as the 1980's, as well as Jennifer Ho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ho affirmed HUD’s support for the effort,  stating that “the LGBT community's needs must be front and center” as HUD expands senior housing across the country.

The panel also included Cheryl Gladstone of Enterprise Community Partners; Melissa Rothstein of the Equal Rights Center; David Cleghorn of HELP USA;  Kathleen Sullivan of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Sherrill Wayland of SAGE Metro St. Louis. 

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Six panelists addressed the crowd.

 

The panel's geographic diversity mirrored the national scope of the initiative, which offers five key strategies:

  • Building LGBT elder housing and sharing SAGE’s expertise from such projects
  • Training existing housing facilities to provide housing in an LGBT-welcoming, non-discriminatory manner
  • Changing public policies to clear the way for more LGBT elder housing and bar housing discrimination against LGBT older people
  • Educating LGBT older people in how to look for LGBT-friendly housing and how to exercise their rights
  • Expanding LGBT-friendly services available in housing sites across the country. 

We hope you'll sign up for updates from SAGE online here and stay in touch as this critical initiative moves forward! 

January 26, 2015

Triumphs of Experience

Many of our SAGE supporters have asked to be kept up on information related to Successful AgingWe recently alerted them to the publication of Triumphs of Experience, a book by the head of the Grant Study of Adult Development at Harvard University.   Showing, as it does, the impact of both circumstances and choices on aging, the book is a great addition to the Successful Aging bookshelf.

The study, which began in 1938, meticulously tracked the lives of 268 Harvard men students from that time forward.  Collecting data at repeated intervals over 75 years about various points of interest—physical, emotional, mental, etc.—the study tracks not only what happened to its various participants as they aged, but helps to understand why things turned out the way they did.  While the study was limited to a rather privileged group of male participants (as was Harvard in those days), many of its  conclusions have application to society generally.

One of the consistent messages of SAGE’s Successful Aging initiative is that there’s no one “magic bullet” when it comes to creating a rewarding and successful life into ones 80’s and 90’s.  This too is the Study’s conclusion.  The book closes with the following:

“[W]hen it comes to healthy aging, everything really is connected to everything else. A happy old age requires both physical health and mental health. For mental health, love is a necessity. So is being alive. So is being able to think straight. We need physical and cognitive competence to build the social surrounds that give us love and support later on, and it is love and support that encourage us to care for ourselves well and keep ourselves healthy, even when the going gets rough. . . . . The ninety-year-olds of the Grant Study took good care of themselves and of their important relationships. And for the most part, they’ve been very happy to be alive."

January 21, 2015

A Conversation with Newlyweds and SAGE Tulsa Participants Ray and Eduardo

It’s never too late to celebrate love! After more than a decade together, SAGE Participants Ray Mahoney, 66, and  his partner Eduardo Saurez, who is 86, were married on October 12, 2014 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

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Eduardo Saurez, Serena Worthington, SAGE’s Director of National
Field Initiatives, and Ed Mahoney
 

Ray and Eduardo met by chance, or “destiny” as Ray says, at a local food store one day. Ray remembers being struck by how tall Eduardo was. And Eduardo was impressed by Ray too, so he asked Ray for lunch the next day, and they immediately hit it off.

They love a good road trip and have seen a lot of the country in their years together. Ray remembers traveling to see a space shuttle launch in Florida, only to have a rain storm roll in and delay the big event. They’ve also visited Memphis, where they took the Civil Rights tour and visited Graceland. Visiting Nashville is also a fond memory for Ray, who says “It’s a fun town—there’s a party going on everywhere you go!”

The idea of getting married was initially proposed by Eduardo, who says, “I had to persuade him! But I didn’t argue with him.” Once the decision was made, the ceremony was performed by Toby Jenkins, executive Director for Oklahomans for Equality. The happy couple celebrated afterward at SAGE Tulsa with friends, food, and their favorite music.

A theme emerges consistently in conversations about marriage with Ray and Eduardo: security. They both feel a sense of relief knowing that they’re now legally protected and won’t be separated if they have to go into a nursing home or assisted living facility. Without children or other family members nearby, they are each other’s primary safety net.

Ray’s sister Louisa has been supportive of him, but wasn’t encouraging about the wedding at first, saying “you can always back out”. Despite that, Ray and Eduardo show no signs of splitting up. When faced with marital arguments, they’ll tell you they don’t fight—Ray jokes “you don’t argue with the judge!” They tease each other, and Eduardo says they “kid around a lot, but [we] don’t insult each other.” They agree that mutual respect is the key to their success as a couple.

Eduardo is grateful for the protection of marriage, saying that “If I pass away, whatever money we have, goes to each other. I thank God that we trust each other and get along fine!”

Ray shared a portion of his wedding vows to describe his feelings about getting married, saying that “Nothing can equal having someone to be sure of, having someone to believe in, to share a good life with. At the end there are neither riches nor fame, only past remembrances of the few people we’ve shared spiritual unions with.” He added that “If you live your whole life and you find one person you can believe in and trust, you’ve done something!”

Cheers to Ray and Eduardo! May they have many more adventures together.

 

January 16, 2015

A Home for Our Community in the Bronx

On January 14, SAGE opened the doors to its new Center for LGBT older adults in the Bronx. With hot lunches, a cyber cafe, health and educational programs and more, SAGE Center Bronx promises to be a lively, warm and welcoming home for LGBT older adults in this historically underserved borough of New York City. 

RIBBON-CUTTING

The Bronx opening was attended by SAGE participants, staff and supporters, including New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer, and City Councilmembers Ritchie Torres, Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Daniel Dromm and Annabel Palma. It was particularly exciting to celebrate with Councilmember Torres, the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx, who spearheaded the effort to fund SAGE's expansion across New York City. 

 View our Flickr album for more photos of this exciting event, and read this recent New York Times article for much more about SAGE Center Bronx, and the larger SAGE Center expansion initiative, as well as comments from SAGE participants. 

Cheers to our new Bronx family! 

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

January 14, 2015

Creating Change 2015: Advancing an LGBT Agenda

Today’s post is from Serena Worthington, Director of National Field Initiatives. Follow her on Twitter.

SAGE Staff are looking forward to a robust and energizing Creating Change conference in Denver February 4-8. Creating Change, hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force, is the largest annual gathering of activists, organizers and leaders in the LGBT movement.

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Cedric Harmon, Many Voices; Imani Woody, SAGE Metro DC; Serena Worthington, SAGE

This will SAGE’s 5th year hosting the Elder Institute, a day-long pre-conference session built around a theme and spotlighting LGBT older adult activists and providers working in aging. This year the theme is What’s Your Story? Passion, Elder Activism and Movement Building and features interactive group workshops, roundtables and panels. I’m particularly excited to be sharing a new round of stories from our national SAGE Story initiative and to be hosting storytellers from the long-standing group, Telling Your Story, a program of SAGE of the Rockies. These folks have been meeting weekly for four years and have built an amazing archive of personal stories about their experiences as LGBT people over 50. Other highlights of the day include: policy roundtables over lunch on key issues such as HIV and aging, marriage equality and social security, and the upcoming White House Conference on Aging; a panel of activist talking about their templates for community change; and a panel of noted experts working to build an infrastructure of safe, inclusive, affordable housing for LGBT elders in communities across the country. 

The first 50 people to RSVP for the Elder Institute will receive a $10 gift card which can be used to purchase lunch while attending the day-long institute. Please note, your RSVP is not the same as registering for the conference. Conference registration is required. 

To RSVP, visit Creating Change Elder Institute RSVP

SAGE staff are thrilled to be awarding Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) the SAGE Advocacy Award for Excellence in Leadership on Aging Issues for his visionary leadership on LGBT aging and for introducing the LGBT Elder Americans Act, a bill that would increase federal supports to millions of LGBT older people through the Older Americans Act (OAA), the country’s largest vehicle for funding and delivering services to older people in the US.

Other highlights include a training by Tim Johnston, the Manger for Education and Training for the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, on Building Age Inclusive LGBT Services. Aaron Tax, our Federal Government Relations Director, will join a panel to address the question, “How can activists on the ground become a bridge to creating more supportive and equitable services and supports for our elders?”

DSC_3579AA big draw for me is the Elders 50+ and Allies Dance. Sponsored by AARP, the Saturday evening dance is consistently a huge hit, bringing folks of all ages together where the LGBTQ community has always found friendship and joy—on the dance floor.

For those of you who will be attending, I look forward to meeting and strategizing with you! Whether you will be in Denver or joining from afar, stay connected with SAGE at Creating Change by following SAGE on Twitter and finding us on Facebook!

January 6, 2015

We're Hosting a Free Webinar on Out & Visible

This fall, SAGE released Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75. Based on groundbreaking market research on LGBT older adults, the report examines the values, needs, wants and lifestyle preferences of LGBT elders.

SAGE_OUT&VISIBLE_Meme1To illuminate the impact of this landmark report, we are proud to announce a webinar detailing notable findings and forecasting how this data will improve service provision, planning and policy reform efforts for national organizations like the AARP, Transgender Law Center, SAGE and Witeck Communications, as well as regional service providers such as SAGE Metro St. Louis.

This is also the very last chance to hear insights and observations about the report from its author, Robert Espinoza, SAGE’s Senior Director of Policy and Communications, while he is still in his current role at SAGE. He is departing to serve as Vice President of Policy at PHI National and his last day coincides with our webinar.

Friday, January 9, 2015 from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm EST. To register for the webinar, please click here. The webinar ID is 119-423-395.

Moderated by Serena Worthington, SAGE's Director of National Field Initiatives, our panelists include:

 

  • Hop Backus, Executive Vice President, States & Communities, AARP
  • Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
  • Robert Espinoza, Senior Director of Policy and Communications, SAGE
  • Sherrill Wayland, Executive Director, SAGE Metro St. Louis
  • Bob Witeck, CEO and Co-founder, Witeck Communications

 

To read a copy of the report, please click here. Don't have time for the full version? Check out our Executive Summary here.

December 30, 2014

Celebrating Our Year in Pictures

2014 was a pivotal year for SAGE and we are proud to celebrate our achievements in pictures! From Pride with our affiliates around the country to opening up LGBT seniors centers around New York city and from promoting policy changes to our groundbreaking report Out & Visible and more! , SAGE is proud of the work we do on behalf of our LGBT older adults.

Support our work and help us continue to help our community by making a tax-deductible donation before the New Year. Here's to 2015!

December 23, 2014

Introducing The SAGE-Pride Center of Staten Island

The new Pride Center of Staten Island, (presently the Staten Island LGBT Community Center – a program of Community Health Action of Staten Island) has served the LGBT community of Staten Island since 1989. One of the hallmarks of The Pride Center is its ability to create a sense of belonging and family, fostered by its inter-generational opportunities as well as its signature older adults program, the "Golden Rainbow Club."

Now, SAGE is partnering with The Pride Center of Staten Island to build on their Golden Rainbow Club and increase programming for LGBT older adults throughout the borough. The SAGE-Pride Center of Staten Island will offer up to 20 hours per week of programs designed to help older adults age actively and healthfully within their community.

To celebrate this new partnership, The SAGE-Pride Center of Staten Island hosted a kick-off event for participants, staff, and local leaders on December 18, 2014. Department for the Aging Commissioner, Donna Corrado, representatives from numerous elected offices, and leadership from both organizations offered words of support and encouragement. Guests were also treated to a holiday-themed revue by performer, Tym Moss and the debut of Vintage/Modern, a portrait exhibit by resident art curator, Steven Wakeman.

Check out the slideshow of our kick-off event below and be sure to visit us in Staten Island!