I am constantly amazed by the progress that can be made when groups of like minded individuals come together for a common goal. For the past seven years, your Community Foundation has been working tirelessly with our Community for All Ages Coalition to address the issues facing our growing retirement population. Since its conception in October of 2011, the Community for All Ages Coalition has worked “to ensure our Eastern Jackson County Community is collaboratively and proactively working to prepare for the challenges and opportunities created by a doubling of the age 65+ population in our community.”
On June 8, your Community Foundation was honored with a Regional Leadership Award at the annual Mid-America Regional Council Regional Assembly for our work involving the Community for All Ages Coalition. It was my honor to be joined on stage at this event by three dedicated volunteers who have provided critical leadership to this effort, Cindy Cavanah, Barbara Koirtyohann and Karen Bartz. We were honored to receive this recognition. Over the last seven years the Coalition has made great strides in our work to create a community for all ages.
Creating opportunity is the most visible component of the Coalition’s mission. Every month in Eastern Jackson County, 500 Baby Boomers reach age 65. There is an untapped resource in those talented individuals, folks who have more time than ever to devote to volunteering with nonprofits, local governments and other civic groups as they move into retirement. We launched our “Boomers Get Connected” project last October with the goal of connecting 600 Baby Boomers in our community with opportunities to utilize their time and talents as volunteers. Not only will it be good for the organizations where they are volunteering, but it will also allow these Boomers the opportunity to stay active and engaged in their community as they enter retirement. I encourage anyone interested in learning more about the program to visit our website for more information.
The Coalition has also focused a great deal of time and energy in partnership with the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and its KC Communities for All Ages Initiative. With the help of our Coalition members, we are proud to say that four of our local communities have now met the standards set by MARC’s program to be recognized as Communities for All Ages. Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Blue Springs and Independence have all achieved the Bronze recognition level and Lee’s Summit and Independence are working on the Silver level and then are going for the Gold. We are also pleased to announce that MARC’s Age Mastery Program will be provided for older adults at five locations in our area this year.
One of the toughest challenges facing our communities is the lack of transportation for older adults who cannot drive. Our region is one of many across the country where not having a car limits one’s ability to get where you need to go. Your Community Foundation has been working closely with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) to create and build new options with a current focus on transportation to get needed health care services and stay healthy. The local hospitals have joined in this work and are working with us as we explore solutions. We are optimistic about the change we can enact through this partnership.
Receiving this Regional Leadership award was a special moment for those on the Coalition to reflect on the change our community has seen through their efforts. We are humbled to receive this recognition and accept this award knowing there is still much work to be done. To the members of the Coalition, the more than 50 organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits who have helped make this possible, thank you. We look forward to what else we can accomplish by coming together to build a Community for All Ages.