Other volunteers took on the critical work of addressing social isolation with residents in low income housing through Oasis peer discussion groups, which, with initial funding from the AARP Foundation, were a large part of our work for the last two years.
One of the participants, Jackie, is a strong proponent of the peer discussion groups as a way of staying engaged with others. “This is the place where I can speak my mind without being judged or tested,” she explained. “That’s important to me. I feel I can open up with the rest of the group about my feelings and problems and I know that it won’t go beyond these walls.” Jackie also acknowledged that she only knew her neighbors “in passing” before the group started meeting, but now she considers them friends. “I like the size of the group, too,” she added. “It allows for some good discussion and I find I learn a lot about things I can use to better my own life.”
Through a national funding partnership with Anthem Foundation, volunteers like Ron Martin now think differently about retirement. He prefers “refirement.” At 68, Ron, a former community college instructor, has no intention of slowing down. In addition to teaching and taking Oasis classes, he’s in his third year volunteering with CATCH Healthy Habits in Los Angeles.
“I like to keep moving,” he says, encouraging kids in the program to do the same. Healthy eating is another passion. “Mr. Ron,” as his CATCH kids call him, has one rule when it comes to trying new healthy foods.
“I always ask that they try something at least once, even if it looks funny. With kids, it’s all about the way it looks. They often find out that healthy things taste pretty good.”
In looking ahead, the next 3 to 5 years will be a time of dramatic increase in the 50-plus population. As a result, we will develop a new strategic and business plan to guide us into the future. Our overall goal is to increase opportunities for people to continue to lead healthy, active, meaningful and productive lives.
This goal is exactly what Marylen envisioned all those years ago.