December 19, 2013

2013 Toys Party Recap!

On December 15, 2013, hosts Robbie Brown, David Tufts and Chris Kann along with SAGE held the 28th annual Toys Party at Chelsea Piers, Pier 60. Hailed as the best LGBT holiday party of the year, over 2,500 attendees donated toys that will be delivered to various NYC charities for children during the holiday season. Inside, guests mixed and mingled to the sounds of DJ Johnny Dynell, while enjoying cocktails, photobooths and Santas throughout the night. Special guest, Lorraine Bracco introduced Mayor Bloomberg who made a special speech to the crowd as it is his last Toys Party as NYC Mayor.

View a slideshow of photos from the event below or on our Flickr page!

December 17, 2013

Be Out2Enroll by December 23

This blog post is from Out2Enroll. Out2Enroll is an organization devoted to helping all LGBT people find the answers they need to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For details specific to LGBT older adults, please visit the SAGE Affordable Care Act site here.

OuttoenrollHappy holidays! This year, we’re celebrating more than family, friends, food, and exciting progress in the fight for marriage equality. Why? Because December is also about health. Your health. Your family’s health. Your friends’ health. Our community’s health.

Why? For too long, health care has failed to meet the needs of many in the LGBT community. It has failed to provide coverage when we needed it most, failed to recognize our families, and failed to protect us from financial ruin.

Our community deserves better. Which is why we are excited for the new affordable options that are now available thanks to health reform!

For the first time for many, financial assistance is available to help you afford low- or no-cost health insurance and you may be able to apply jointly with your same-sex partner. Plus, the new marketplaces and coverage cannot discriminate against LGBT people. You can expect the same access to services that non-LGBT people receive and you can no longer be denied coverage or charged more simply for being yourself. And these are just a few of the new benefits.

Why the holidays? Because December – specifically, December 23 – is the date you need to enroll in health insurance to make sure you have coverage on January 1, 2014. You can still sign up next year but it’s important to start the new year off healthy – and covered!

Still have questions? No problem. There are great LGBT-specific resources at www.out2enroll.org, which has answers to your most burning LGBT questions, an awesome video from Jason Collins, and a blog with stories of people like you who were able to get health insurance that fits their needs and their budget.

This holiday season, make sure you check out www.out2enroll.org and connect with www.healthcare.gov to explore your new coverage options today by December 23!

December 12, 2013

Social Security Update: Check out same-sex couples benefits!

2212726UPDATE: On December 16, 2013, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, released a new statement on payments to same-sex married couples. Read it now.

As 2013 draws to a close, we want to highlight some important changes in Social Security that affects all older adults—including the LGBT community! Check out the following and stay informed. For a large list of Social Security resources and articles geared to LGBT older adults, visit the resource page at the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

News from the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  • The SSA announced on October 30, 2013 that for people who already receive a monthly Social Security benefit, the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will increase 1.5% in 2014.  The 1.5%cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 57 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2014.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2013.
  • Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due. In the coming weeks and months, SSA will work with the Department of Justice to develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions. If you know someone who you believe may be eligible for Social Security benefits, we encourage you to tell them to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. The SSA will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized.  Information also will be posted on a web page dedicated to issues relevant to same-sex couples.  
  • The SSA is encouraging people to apply for a My Social Security account.  For people who already receive a monthly Social Security and/or SSI cash benefit, they may use their account to get proof of their monthly income without having to call or visit a local Social Security office!  They’ll also be able to change their address and direct deposit online!  If you need help, the SSA has created two fact sheets on creating an account and verifying benefits.

Interested in learning more? The official website of the Social Security Administration has a plethora of information about various programs and benefits with easy to follow instructions and guides.

 

December 10, 2013

International Human Rights Day: LGBT Around the World

MandelaquoteIn 1993, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights. This declaration reaffirmed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Charter and remains a blueprint for reaffirming human rights as a universal standard throughout the world. Today is International Human Rights Day and the U.N. is marking the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declration. We recognize this day for its affect on promoting all freedoms--civil, political, economical, social and cultural--under a large umbrella. While sad, it almost seems appropriate that this day also marks the memorial to Nelson Mandela--that tireless fighter for human rights.

On this day, many are making a call for renewing a committment to LGBT rights. While we have much to celebrate in 2013, there is still progress to be made, both in the United States and around the world.

In the United States, 16 states have legal same-sex marriage and 33 states have same-sex marriage bans. Also, 21 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 17 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression. We have to remember that these stats don't encompass the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community every day in their schools, places of work or where they live.

According to Stonewall UK, "being gay is illegal in 78 countries across the world and being a lesbian is illegal in 49. In five countries same-sex sexual activity carries the death penalty.
Even where it’s legal to be gay other laws often stand in the way of equality. In some cases gay pride marches are not allowed and neither is literature that ‘promotes homosexuality’ - which often means it simply states its existence." Another breakdown from 76Crimes, lists 78 (plus 4) countries with criminal laws against sexual activity by LGBTI people.

On this International Human Rights Day, SAGE joins the chorus in calling for a better recognition of human rights for our community around the world and commends the work of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission. We encourage folks to watch this excellent video from the United Nations and share.

 

December 5, 2013

A BIG Thank You to our Volunteers

Today is International Volunteer Day and we would love to recognize all of the amazing work our volunteers do for SAGE. The United Nations started this international observance back in 1985 and this year's focus is "Young. Global. Active." While the U.N. recognizes the contributions of all volunteers, they are paying special tribute to youth volunteers. We want to celebrate ALL of our volunteers, young and old, because SAGE volunteers run the gamut.

From our recent Thanksgiving event, where our volunteers spent the day with us, instead of with their own family and friends, to our Friendly Visitors, who make the lives of homebound LGBT seniors a bit easier, to those leading our karaoke nights, our volunteers fulfill a crucial part of our mission -- to improve the lives of LGBT older adults. 

Volunteers are truly the backbone of SAGE. Without them, we would not be able to offer the breadth of services and programs at our main SAGE office and our SAGENet affiliates across the country! We appreciate everything our volunteers do and if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, be sure to check out the options on our site.

You can also read why Mark Galvez volunteers at SAGE, view some pictures of our volunteers in action this Thanksgiving or watch our video below celebrating our Friendly Visitors!

 

December 1, 2013

Recognizing World AIDS Day

WAD-logo-2013In recognition of World AIDS Day, SAGE honors those who we have lost to the disease and all people currently living and caring for those who have HIV/AIDS.  Considering that research indicates that by 2015 half of the people living with HIV in the U.S. will be over 50 years old, this is an issue that SAGE is deeply involved in, both in the services we offer and the federal policy work we do in conjunction with AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) and Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). 

Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation," this year's theme, focuses on the strides made with preventative care and treatment with the goal of ending this devastating epidemic. Watch the video below from UNAIDS for a hopeful message from Executive Director Michel Sidibé and read on for more links about the day.

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks a Little Early

Coming up on Thanksgiving, we wanted to share a story from one of our fantastic Case Managers, Larry Gile.  Larry currently has about forty-five clients that he works with on a regular basis and we share one of his stories below. We also wanted to share with you a note we got from Nancy on our website. We are thankful for our staff, board, clients, LGBT older adults and all who look to SAGE for help. Happy Thanksgiving!

Larry_gile
SAGE Case Manager, Larry Gile

We try to have all of our clients have a happy results--of course, that isn't always the case. However, the story I have to tell has a good ending, one that I think is perfect for the holiday season. Our clients' names have been changed for their confidentiality.

Stan is an 87-year old native of Maryland who has led a life of entertainment. He was a singer, musician, the author of numerous children's books and a worked on an Oscar-award winning film (in an age of IMDB, we'll keep the film name to ourselves). His caregiver and partner, Irwin, is originally from Alabama and worked in book publishing. Irwin is 75-years old.

About five years ago, Stan began showing symptoms of cognitive impairment, accompanied by increasing frailty and became a regular client of SAGE. We worked with both Stan and Irwin to arrange for God's Love We Deliver and home health aides in order to help them both. Recently, Stan experienced a series of falls in his home which made it clear to both to him and his partner that a long-term nursing home placement would be the safest and most logical next step in his life.

Nursing home placement can be difficult--especially when the financial situation is tight. SAGE's Case Manager, Larry Gile, helped Stan prepare and submit applications for five nursing homes as well as collecting the extensive personal and financial records needed to apply for nursing home Medicaid. Unfortunately, Larry didn't hear anything favorable from the homes for Stan. Deciding a visit was in order, Larry went to Stan's top choice in person to see if there was anything he could do to facilitate Stan's admission.

Larry introduced himself to the nursing home's brand new Director of Admitting and told him Stan's story and circumstances. The Director took an interest in Stan's case after hearing about his hardships in person and several days later, SAGE received notice that a bed was available for Stan!

Stan moved in a week later and was comfortable in his new situation. Miraculously, two weeks later, he was moved into a private room! This allows him more privacy and a chance to make the room his actual home. He is now flourishing in his new home and getting the care he needs. His partner Irwin is able to better take care of himself as the needs of his partner are being met. Larry is still in contact with the couple and reports that both are doing great!

A Note From Nancy

3791122SAGE received this email from our website feedback form and wanted to share this with our community. We are proud to be serving people like Nancy, who may not have access to the local services we provide in New York and those our affiliates provide around the country.

I am very grateful for this site because, living in a senior community made up of a majority of very conservative residents, it is one place I can visit to feel connected to my "larger community" and LGBT activities. I made clear to the administration here, before moving in nearly 3 years ago, that I am Lesbian. I was assured that I was fully accepted. I neither flaunt or hide my identity but have not found but one, straight, resident to whom I can confide. It gets lonely sometimes. Fortunately, my Episcopal church is is very open and accepting...my home away from home! Thank you for all the stories and features on this site which so enrich my and the lives of many others!

November 25, 2013

Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!

Bannerflyer
You came. You read. You voted. 

Many thanks to all who participated in our SAGE Story contest—both in sharing their story and voting! We are pleased to announce that Kimberly Burnham, PhD is our winner! Kimberly, is a 56-year-old lesbian who bicycled 3000+ miles across America on the 2013 Hazon Cross USA. She wrote a poem about her experience that resonated with our voters and won a $50 Amazon giftcard and bragging rights for winning our first-ever national contest!

Read her poem below or check it out the full SAGE Story site with all of our finalists and more stories. Inspired? Share your story! We would love to hear from you.

Continue reading "Winner Chosen in the First-Ever SAGE Story Contest!" »

November 21, 2013

SAGE Story Contest: Voting Ends Tomorrow!

Fb2We are so proud to have received numerous stories for our SAGE Story Contest! We asked the question: "What does 'community' mean to you? How do you stay connected to the people who matter most to you?" and got inspiring responses. Four of our finalists are now up on our site and we need your help deciding the winner.

Our four finalists share tales of strength, resilience, love, friendship and caregiving. We are honored that they chose to tell their stories to the world.

Visit our voting page, check out the four stories and pick your favorite! You have until tomorrow, Friday, November 22, 5 pm EST to decide. Contest results will be up on Monday, so be sure to check back!

November 20, 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance

502px-Candle_in_the_darkIn honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), The SAGE Center will be hosting a special event tonight at The SAGE Center from 6-7 pm.  TDOR was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and became an important memorial that now occurs every year. Feel like marching?  The East Harlem/Bronx LGBT Task Force will hold its first ever Transgender Day of Remembrance March and Vigil this evening. The march will start at 6:00 pm at 138th St. & 3rd Ave in the Bronx and will be marching to the Harlem State Office Building (125th & 7th Ave.).

SAGE honors the transgender community and recognizes the difficulty they face, especially in aging. For anyone interested in transgender aging issues, please check out all of our transgender resources, including our groundbreaking report, Improving the Lives of Transgender Older Adults.

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