Friend of Seniors Louisville, Kentucky
To be involved
“If you see things in your city that could be improved, or have ideas for how your city could be improved, it’s definitely worth getting involved,” says AARP Kentucky’s Tihisha Rawlins. “I view aging as an opportunity to bring like-minded people together to work on common goals.”
Have a place at All Table
“We view everything as an opportunity. And because we had so many people around the table, the brainstorming was amazing,” Rawlins recalled. “At the time, Louisville was just getting ready to start work on its 2040 strategic plan. We made sure the age-friendly team members were in attendance – and when something was discussed at meeting, we made sure the speaker didn’t forget to put on the “aging lens”.
“We didn’t rush the process. When we organized our focus group, we had two each part of the community,” says Rawlins. “And then we said, ‘It’s not enough. We need more. Let’s go where different groups meet. It took time to say, ‘Hey, here we are, what do you all think?’ After two years of research, we took another year to develop a strategy.
Tear down (or never build) the walls
Pam Yankeelov of Age-Friendly Louisville describes the many meetings she has attended during the COVID-19 pandemic as “much less territorial. It was more, ‘We’re here together. Let’s see if we can do more of that, more sharing, more support, more promoting each other.
His colleague Sarah Teeters agrees: “I think the silos have been broken down a bit. It wasn’t business, it’s business. Before COVID-19, it was more about, “I have the biggest marketing numbers and we have the most donations.” It was more of a numbers game. COVID has not only humiliated people, but also businesses and organizations. We all wanted to see places thrive and succeed, and I think that opened doors for communication where people had no walls. Everyone had a common trauma.
“Age-friendly work gives you a deeper understanding, a greater awareness of various organizations and their missions and how those missions overlap,” adds Yankeelov. “When you get to know people on a personal level, your lives intertwine. Your professional and friendly networks grow. Passion builds on passion, so the energy you bring to the table is multiplied because those around you have the same degree and depth of passion.