Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Throughout this challenging time, SAGE-RI has remained committed to its mission. The SAGE Zoom Café, held each Thursday at noon, continues offering both an opportunity to connect with friends and new acquaintances, and a way to be informed of valuable community resources. In January, an excellent presentation was given by the Associate State Directors of AARP Rhode Island, on both national and local initiatives and legislative priorities. We are grateful to the many community presenters, from an array of healthcare and social service providers, for contributing to this outreach effort, especially at a time when access to trustworthy information is so important.
In 2021, SAGE-RI is pleased to announce that a grant from the RI Foundation will support our organizational development. We are taking advantage of a time when there are still constraints on gathering in person to build a stronger foundation to accomplish future opportunities and challenges. The membership drive initiated last fall continues through spring to inform and engage new members and volunteers.
Even with challenges posed by the pandemic, we accomplished much in 2020. In late spring, our statewide focus groups identified the needs and concerns of LGBT older adults, and we cooperated with RI Pride’s food drive initiative. We participated in the summer’s Family Service “Be Safe Program” to share information regarding community resources. In the fall, SAGE-RI Café presented a "Lunch and Learn" program addressing key issues, and we completed the “Promoting Quality Care for LGBT Older Adults” workshop series that brought training to RI healthcare, social service, and elder service providers.
SAGE-RI is represented at meetings and on committees, focusing on LGBT issues such as the GLAD-hosted RI Public Policy Roundtable and the LGBTQ Action RI group, and is also working with state agencies and non-profit groups addressing key issues facing older adults. Communication strategies include notices to the SAGE-RI mailing list, postings on Facebook, and a SAGERI YouTube channel for video recordings of presentations and oral histories.
The valuable insights learned from our focus groups will help guide priorities in the coming years. Major themes expressed in all five statewide groups included the need for: improved access to LGBT culturally-sensitive legal and financial advice, more intergenerational programming, more comprehensive training for health care and senior service providers, support for accessing technology, and reliable non-discriminatory service providers for assistance with household tasks when needed. Interest was expressed in exploring the feasibility of LGBT dedicated housing and service delivery programs. Concerns were voiced about the potential for facing prejudice in senior housing and in long term care settings.
In keeping with the 2020 American Academy of Science report entitled “Understanding the Well-Being of LGBTQI+ Populations,” emphasis was placed on the need to create safe and welcoming space for building community. SAGE-RI is pursuing opportunities to share this information with policy makers and senior service providers. Discussions are currently underway with the leadership of senior centers regarding training needs and opportunities for welcoming outreach to LGBT older adults.
SAGE-RI is developing curriculum and resource material for staff training in long-term care and assisted living facilities, a project supported by the RI Foundation through the Equity Action Fund. Collaboration with senior service providers aims to ensure training is relevant and effective.
We invite community members to contribute to the SAGE-RI mission, either by joining as a member or by expressing an interest in volunteering via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The future presents many challenges. It will require a community-wide effort to bring about the safe, inclusive, and welcoming settings we envision.
Cathy Gorman is a member of the SAGE-RI Steering Committee
SAGE-RI (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) addresses issues of concern to LGBT elders and is an organization of diverse people of all ages. For information on programs or to join SAGE-RI, drop us a line at email@example.com; find us on Facebook as SAGE-Rhode Island; or send correspondence to SAGE-RI c/o the Church of the Transfiguration, 1665 Broad Street, Cranston, RI 02905.