Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Seniors4Kids' Musgrave Has A New Blog

We're happy to see the addition of Mary A. Musgrave to the world of blog writing. The Kentucky State Coordinator for Generations United's Seniors4Kids initiative is now blogging for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Mary's blog is called "Bluegrass Nana," and is featured at Bluegrass Moms, an online community in association with the Lexington newspaper. Her first installment was published today, and were looking forward to reading many more posts in the future!

Rich Robinson is the Press Secretary for Generations United. You can email him at rrobinson@gu.org

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New Voices Bring New Perspectives

Perhaps the most worthwhile aspect of having a conference, a summit or just a meeting is the opportunity to encounter new people. It’s exciting to engage energized, passionate individuals – it brings a fresh perspective on intergenerational ideas and it gives us all a boost in our work. Our November Summit on Generations was attended by one such new voice, Raj Jayadev, from San Jose, California. He is the coordinator of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a community organization that provides a platform for the unheard voices of the South Bay region.

This past week Raj wrote an article titled “New Frontier for Organizing: Youth and Elders, Working Hand in Hand.” In it, he points out young people and older adults can be, in fact have been, effective advocates for positive social change when working together.

… some of the best youth organizing victories and support systems for young people have always been inter-generational, even if rarely acknowledged. Major achievements like the California youth organizations that shut down draconian youth prisons, always had moms and grandmothers at their rallies and actions.

You can read his full article at New American Media. We will continue to welcome new voices into the dialogue so we may learn and grow, as our mission continues.

Rich Robinson is the Press Secretary for Generations United. You can email him at rrobinson@gu.org

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training in Indio, CA

Staff and volunteers from the Senior and Teen Centers in Indio, California spent December 13 with Generations United’s Sheri Steinig and Leah Bradley focusing on developing successful intergenerational activities and programs. When discussing previous experiences, a senior center volunteer shared that he “had never laughed so hard in his life” as he did when kayaking with the teens during one of their intergenerational trips. It was an empowering, exciting day, culminating in plans for three new ongoing opportunities for intergenerational interactions. This training was supported with a grant from Met Life Foundation, as part of a national shared site initiative, building capacity of local communities. Generations United is working with a select group of cities, counties and non-profit organizations to strengthen their communities through strategic planning and staff training.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Intergenerational Thinking is the New Norm

Thinking within an intergenerational context is really becoming a conventional wisdom. This is supported by the Harris Interactive survey we recently commissioned, which revealed more than 80 percent of American adults want their leaders in Washington to fund policies that encourage connections between older and younger people. And as more and more families are living in multigenerational households, we as a nation are becoming far more intergenerational than we were only 20 years ago.

A recent story on multigenerational households in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette perfectly supports this idea. The article quoted Donna, and it also featured a new comic strip by cartoonist Ed Stein called “Freshly Squeezed.” The strip centers around a family forced to live under the same roof due to economic necessity. It is based on Stein’s experiences when his mother died and his then 80-year-old father decided to move in with him while he and his wife raised toddlers.

Comic strips are like TV shows and films in that they reflect the zeitgeist of our society. It is encouraging to see more mainstream treatment of multigenerational living depicted in the media. It only makes sense, because it is where we as a society now find ourselves. Let’s hope we see more soon.

Rich Robinson is the press secretary for Generations United. You can email him at rrobinson@gu.org

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Building a Policy Framework: Family Matters a Success!

What a great event! On November 15th we released Family Matters: Public Policy and the Interdependence of Generations to a packed house at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. A panel, moderated by Generations United strategic advisor Juan Willams, discussed the issues and recommendations in the report. John Rother (AARP), Ralph Smith (Annie E.Casey Foundation) and Eugene Steuerle (Urban Institute) thoughtfully discussed the issues our country faces as our economy continues to struggle and families are hurting. While some tend to lean towards segregating support for generations, we at Generations United advocate it's not a fight, it's a family. We need to create and implement policies that help generations help each other.

We are grateful to Juan, John, Ralph and Gene for joining us. While the discussion was rich, the stories shared by three individuals added the heart to the day. Many thanks to Pamela Perry who talked about her twins' wonderful experience at Easter Seals' Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Inter-Generational Center; Beth Finke who shared her story pointing to the value of Social Security for all ages and the need to reinstate the student benefit; and to Carrie Ryan who explained why she believes generations should be connected which led to her starting "Bridging Generations" while in high school.
You'll be hearing more about the report and our plans to move the recommendations forward. In the meantime, download a copy of the report from our website and let us know what you think. And have a great Thanksgiving! Best, Donna

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Fighting Over Future Funding Hurts Everyone

Perhaps you’ve seen some press recently about a new book from journalist Ted C. Fishman called “Shock of Gray” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/magazine/17Aging-t.html?emc=eta1). In it, the author attempts to make the case that as the world’s population is grows older, there will be heated battles between generations for shrinking dollars that fund programs which support older citizens (i.e. Social Security) or the young (i.e. Head Start).

Supporting an aging population is not a bleak either/or proposition that pits one generation against another. Instead of disparaging and dismissing the involvement of older adults, we should celebrate their contributions and facilitate their active participation.

One critically important way to do this is to make it easier for people of all ages to work in both paid and unpaid positions. In 2009, older adults volunteered 1.6 billion hours of time valued at more than $33 billion to our economy, a legacy that benefits recipients among all generations.

We must not look at an aging society as if we need to triage who to save and who to cut. We need to pull together and realize it’s a family, not a fight.

~Rich Robinson
Generations United, Press Secretary can be reached at rrobinson@gu.org.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Protecting and Preserving Social Security for Generations

Last week, Generations United was honored to be invited to testify before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security on Protecting and Preserving Social Security for Generations. Unfortunately due to other pressing Congressional priorities, the hearing was cancelled. However, GU’s written testimony was distributed to the entire Ways and Means Committee and the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which is charged with identifying policies to improve the current fiscal situation and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.

Our testimony emphasized that Social Security lifts more children out of poverty than any other Federal Program and is a promise to all generations that must not be broken. It was founded on the belief that those who work long and hard should not become destitute due to retirement or disability, nor should their families suffer economic insecurity in the event of early death. Social Security not only protects older adults, it protects children through survivor’s benefits, retirement benefits, disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Social Security is especially critical for grandfamilies, families where children are being raised by grandparents or other relatives. As one grandparent caregiver said, “Without it, we’d be living out of my car.” More than 6.5 million children across the country are living in households maintained by grandparents or other relatives.

GU urges Congress to look at ways to improve the adequacy of Social Security by restoring the student benefit, improving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and exploring ways to change the family cap and grandchild benefit to better support non-traditional family structures such as grandfamilies.

GU will continue to advocate and protect the intergenerational commitment embodied in Social Security and we’ll continue to build off the momentum created by our Social Security For All Generations Call-In Day, cosponsored by AARP, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, Grandfamilies of America, Easter Seals, National Committee of Grandparents for Children's Rights, North American Council on Adoptable Children, and Voices for America's Children. which garnered 4,600 calls to federal lawmakers stressing the importance of Social Security for all ages, and our informative testimony.

To read the entire Social Security testimony and stay informed visit our Social Security page or download our new fact sheet about Social Security's importance to grandfamilies (grandparents and other relatives raising grandchildren).

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Thank you to all the abuelas (and abuelos) out there!

Abuelita, Nana, Mima, Lita, Abucha, Mama, Abue. These are all ways in which to say Grandmother in Spanish. There are probably others I missed, never mind in other languages. I myself used to call my maternal grandmother Mama Nati (short for Nativity because she was born on Christmas, may she rest in peace).

I had the pleasure of watching an amazing film about grandmothers last week, For the Next 7 Generations. This film tells the stories of thirteen indiginous grandmothers from all over the world who had never met, but came together because they believed it was up to them to share their sacred wisdom in order to save Mother Earth and preserve it for those who came after them. The grandmothers are from all over the world, Tibet, Africa, Alaska, Canada, South America, even Mexico and Nicaragua. In one scene the grandmothers came together and a girl of about nine years made a short movie about them, showing why it was that they came together in the firt place. It was a very touching film and I don't want to spoil it further, but I hope everyone can take the opportunity to watch it for themselves.

There are over 2.5 million grandparents raising their grandchildren across the country. 19%, or almost half a million, of them are Latino. Nationally, over 6 million children are being raised by their grandparents because their parents are not able to. This is a tremendous endevour filled with many hardships, but also love and joy. It's no easy task for anyone involved and these grandparents need the support to be able to do it. There are groups all over that are there to lend a hand, and one such example is in Arizona. Arizona's Children Association has several KARE Family Programs throughout the state to serve grandfamilies, several are in communities with high numbers of Latino populations. They offer support groups, education referrals, legal resource information, assistance with completing paperwork, and much more.

It's been my experience that Abuelas have been held in high esteem and affection. It's when they take on a much more significant role, like that of a primary caregiver, that it becomes clear how vital they really are.

For more information on Arizona's KARE Programs visit www.arizonaschildren.org/karecenter.htm.
For more information on the film about the thirteen indiginous grandmothers visit www.grandmotherscouncil.org.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

SHINE On Through

The Latino culture and its people have been part of U.S. fabric for as long as it has existed, back when the west and southwest states including California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas belonged to Mexico. As the United States’ boundaries changed and became the “Land of Opportunity” people from all over the world and especially Latino countries came in droves. Latino immigrants of all ages came with the high hopes of a better life, often escaping difficult, even dangerous, situations. Countries mired in civil wars made it hard for people to earn good livelihoods. And coming to America hasn’t always been easy, as most immigrants will tell you. Because although immigrant communities have a reputation for being closely knit, isolation and depression are all too familiar to many.

Project SHINE was created in Philadelphia, PA at the Intergenerational Center at Temple University by Nancy Henkin. She hoped that this new project would help ease the transition for older adult immigrants, who, after spending their entire lives in another way of life, have painful experiences integrating into a new culture. Project SHINE was just the beginning at Temple University; it runs at eighteen other campuses across the country. Through this service-learning program, college students serve as tutors, coaches, mentors of sort in ESL classrooms in community agencies that serve immigrants and older adults. This program not only benefits the older adults, who get to interact with college students, learn English, learn about America from one of its younger generations, they are also able to share their wisdom with young people, give first-hand accounts of what life is like in a part of the world that is unfamiliar to many people. This is a program that makes sense, benefits younger and older individuals, and meets a community need.

For more information on Project SHINE visit www.projectshine.org

~Roxana is blogging during Hispanic History Month about intergenerational programs and initiatives that serve Latino communities.