Elders in Action
The press has labeled it the "Silver Tsunami" – estimating that 10,000 individuals celebrate their 65th birthday daily, and will do so for the next twenty years. This will certainly drive up the need for considerable assistance in terms of information and services, especially for lower-income seniors. Many organizations and groups are springing up in response to this growing need, but there has been one organization locally that has been active for more than forty years: Elders in Action.
Started as a Portland/Multnomah County agency in the late 60s, it became a private non-profit agency in 1997, expanding its offerings to Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties. Addressing relevant issues of housing, health and safety for seniors, they work with governments, businesses and the public as an important advocate for the senior members of our communities:
- A Speaker's Board provides public workshops in a variety of relevant topics.
- Elders in Action officially certify "Elder Friendly" businesses based on several relevant criteria; both locations of Portland Nursery have been proud to be certified as "Elder Friendly" since 1998.
- The Commission is an advocacy group that advises city and county governments and agencies about issues concerning the elderly; they have done a great job in their advocacy and have helped shape beneficial policy at many levels.
- A corps of volunteers is trained to be able to act as Personal Advocates to help answer questions, find resources and solve problems of housing, health and safety for individuals. These services are available at no cost.
A recent effort has focused specifically on the issue of hunger and food insecurity amongst the elderly, with a variety of projects that helped to provide hundreds of pounds of produce directly to seniors in need. Portland Nursery donated materials to the fantastic Bob's Community Garden Project, a combined effort with businesses, county agencies and volunteers to plant and maintain an edible garden that is a model for other, similar garden projects planned for the future.
For the last several years they have staffed a table with information about their services at both of Portland Nursery's senior events: Senior Gardening Day at Division in September, and Elder Day at Stark during the annual Apple Tasting event in October.
We appreciate all that Elders in Action does for our community. We have, for the past several years, donated a portion of sales from apples and pears at our Apple Tasting event to help support their programs. We share in their belief that "quality of life should never depend on age."
For more information:
Corina Reynolds Stearns, Portland Nursery Community Outreach Director
Programs with Elders in Action
Best Community Garden
Bob's Community Garden Project was voted best community garden for 2011 by Willamette Week.
It’s a typical Portland sight: a row of four new cedar raised beds, planted with a variety of crops and surrounded by burlap sacks to hold back the weeds. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill vegetable patch. In fact, some see it as the front line in a largely invisible battle in Portland: fighting the “hidden hunger” and malnutrition of the city’s seniors.
The squash, kale and tomatoes grown here will feed seniors at the Hollywood Senior Center, providing fresh organic produce to folks who regularly go without. Bob Reynolds, 78, a stooped and soft-spoken Tennessee native with a cotton-white beard, has lived in this modest yellow house for 20 years.
Though he once loved to garden, his mobility and strength are too limited to keep it up. He spends most of his days inside, listening to the radio and practicing his singing. His yard had long been overgrown, and somewhat of an eyesore for neighbors. But Bob now has an attractive little garden again, thanks to a dedicated effort from Elders in Action, Multnomah County, Hollywood Senior Center, and a wide array of volunteers and businesses who built the beds and maintain the crops.
That means Bob also has regular visitors to check in and chat for a bit, an activity he certainly enjoys. Bob’s garden is just the beginning for the program.
Organizers hope its example will spread among Portland’s large senior population, many of whom have lots perfect for gardening but aren’t able to do it themselves. Bob, who says in his soft drawl that he’s thinking about becoming a vegetarian “because it’s the best way to eat,” is pretty pleased to have a garden again, and he’s got some expansion plans. “I’d like to see more tomatoes,” he says. “Maybe in the backyard. There’s more sun back there.” CRAIG BEEBE, The Willamette Week.
Elders In Action’s Elder Friendly® Business Certification
Elders In Action’s Elder Friendly® Business Certification helps businesses better serve older customers through Elders In Action’s nationally recognized standard of service. Each organization is evaluated by volunteers and provided feedback on how they can best serve the older customer.
Watch this video advertisement, ShowMePortland.TV presenter and two Elders In Action volunteers visit New Seasons Market and Portland Nursery, to see how they’ve attained Elder Friendly certification.
Encore Action Teams
Elders in Action has two Encore Action Teams focusing on Hidden Hunger.
"Food Insecurity Among Our Elders engaged over 100 volunteers in service learning projects with a positive impact of feeding older adults, including providing over 2,000 lbs of fresh organic produce directly to seniors through food baskets and meals. "
Volunteer Engagement & Social Media Manager
Elders in Action, 1411 SW Morrison St., Suite 290
Portland, Oregon 97205
For information on how we can help, please send an email to Corina Reynolds Stearns