To the Editor:
Thank you to the Herald for the good pictures of the community forum discussion on May 7 of our important consideration of issues that affect us all. This forum was organized by the Chicago Hyde Park group of OWL ~ The Voice of Women 40+, on the topic of the 2016 Mother’s Day Report Aging in Community: Contributions and Challenges of Different Models. The research summarized in the report builds on the facts that our community — and our world — is aging. Many of us are surviving to be old and very old, and we find that most of our housing is not designed for our changing needs and capabilities. Many forms of organizations are operating to meet some of the needs of this changing demographic — hoping to create more aging-friendly communities so that adults can do what 90 percent say they want to do: stay in their own community as long as possible. In our own community we have several different options, which differ in how they are organized, governed, managed, and funded. Many services are funded by taxes, such as the Atlas Senior Center in South Shore (whose Director, Robin Tillotson, spoke at the Forum; and the City of Chicago Home Service Division, who provides care for Grace Latibeaudiere-Williams and her 100-year old mother, Herga. Some services are provided by philanthropic foundations, such as the Mather Lifeways Cafe on 83rd and Wabash; Beedie Jones reported on how they provide physical fitness, social activities, and nutrition to thousands of clients every year. Consumer-driven models include the Villages, now a national movement; they are member-funded, member-organized, and much of the work is done by volunteers; Susan Alitto, the Founding President of CHPV spoke about how we work. Esther Wong, representing a very large, complex model, The Chinese American Service League, receives tax supports, philanthropic funding, member fees, and uses professionals and volunteers for programs from birth to death.
Each model has benefits and challenges. The emerging goal must be to work on collaborating across groups and organizations who are trying to contribute something toward aging well. Collaboration is much more difficult than working within one type of service, or one particular need, but because we need to be more efficient in using scarce resources we need to work together. A wide variety of public-private partnerships have been developed — sometimes coming out of forums like this one. This forum was co-sponsored by our Chicago Hyde Park Village, the DuPage County OWL, Lincoln Park Village, North Shore Village, and Skyline Village.
We had a capacity crowd. Thanks to the University of Chicago Community Programs Accelerator for the meeting space, and to all the community supporters who provided refreshments for the lovely reception that followed the discussions. The report is available online at owl-national.org; I have a limited number of printed, bound copies of the report available for $10.00.
My future goals are to work more intensively toward an aging-friendly community, and toward a dementia-friendly, utilizing the manuals developed already. We have some elements already, but we have much more to do.
Margaret Hellie Huyck, Ph.D.
President, OWL National Board
President, Chicago Hyde Park Village