Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Generations United’s Response to the State of the Union Address

“…what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple profound belief in opportunity for all…”

President Barrack Obama called on Americans of all generations to unite in common purpose in his 2014 State of the Union Address. Several of his policy recommendations connected directly to Generations United’s recently released, Out of Many, One: Uniting the Changing Faces ofAmerica, in which experts used the lens of America’s changing race and age demographics to discuss key issues in employment, transportation, civic engagement.  The President touched on other important intergenerational issues including education and healthcare.

Employment and Infrastructure
Building off the four years of economic growth, President Obama proposed policies to protect middle class security and opportunity at work while expanding jobs and economic opportunities. We applaud the President for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal contract workers and call on Congress to follow his lead.  President Obama also called for building a 21st century workplace for America’s working families which includes grandfamilies and multigenerational families.  Recognizing the important role of caregivers, the President said: “A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.” We would add a grandparent or other caregiver does too.

Generations United supports these ladders of opportunities that lift poor Americans into the middle class, especially the President’s proposal to increase the number of innovative apprenticeships in America. The President can take his bid a step further. That’s why we are suggesting that employers encourage innovation and incentivize the most effective internship, apprenticeship, fellowship, and workforce development programs for younger and older workers. Another ladder of opportunity is the Earned Income Tax Credit and President Obama was right to call on Congress to work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more American get ahead.

Civic Engagement
Speaking on the need to strengthen the Voting Rights Act, President Obama insisted that all Americans support everyone’s right to vote. “It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.”  As we consider reforms to fully engage all Americans, it must include strategies that ensure engagement of all ages of eligible voters.  Voter turnout is 72 percent among older adults and just 45 percent among young people.  Registration is the biggest hurdle among young people. Yet when they are registered they vote at the same rates as older adults. That’s why Generations United believes that allowing same-day registration for voting nation-wide ensures everyone has a stake in driving our democracy. Since low voter turnout undermines the basic premise of self-governance and self-presentation, the federal government can clear this unnecessary roadblock by adopting a uniform standard allowing eligible voters to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day. Our report found that states that allow Same-Day Registrations (SDR) lead the nation in voter participation—and have a narrower age-based gap in voting.

In his push for the most dynamic, educated workforce, President Obama proposed legislation that helps children and youth succeed in the 21st century. “Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education,” the President said. Generations United affirms that investments in quality early childhood education, experiences and environments benefit not just children but people of all ages by reducing crime, improving  community safety, contributing to family stability, enhancing the quality of our workforce and strengthening our economy. That's why older-adult advocates in 42 states and DC have pledged to raise their voices in support of children as part of Generations United's Seniors4Kids.

The President’s policy for education also includes transforming America’s high schools and making college more affordable for American families. “We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career,” President Obama said. “We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education.” Generations United offers a range of intergenerational approaches to "shake up our system of education" and help college graduates with student loan debt such as promoting home-sharing. The home-sharing model, outlined in our report, matches older people who want to stay in their homes, have extra space and need modest care or companionship with young people who need affordable living spaces and have the time and energy to contribute to maintenance and care in exchange for housing. Going a step further in addressing the student debt crisis, the federal government could cut student loan debt by offering to lower rates by a point for students who take part in a formal home-sharing arrangement that helps older adults stay in the community.

President Obama recognized Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear – whose wife, First Lady Jane Beshear, has a strong history as an intergenerational champion in her role as honorary co-chair of Generations United's Seniors4Kids in Kentucky program. Governor Beshear has modeled effective outreach to improve healthcare access to Kentucky families. Thanks to health care reform, three million young Americans under 26 have coverage on their parents’ insurance, while nine million Americans signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid. And in the process of fixing America’s health care system, being dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition is a thing of the past. Generations United applauds the President for urging young and old to work together to help those without health insurance get signed up by the March 31st deadline. “Moms, get on your kids to sign up,” he said. “Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind – plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you.”

Generations United also agrees Americans need to save more for retirement to supplement Social Security benefits they have contributed to throughout their working lives. Calling on employers to help through the creation of ‘myRA’ savings account may be a helpful tool. However, this proposed new program should in no way weaken Social Security which is a critical family protection program.

Throughout his remarks, President Obama reaffirmed the critical interdependence of generations. “After all, that’s the spirit that has always moved this nation forward,” he said. “It’s the spirit of citizenship – the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American Family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.”

Well said, Mr. President. Our reliance on each other matters. Because we are stronger together.

For nearly three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together.  We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Press Release: Generations United welcomes new Board Chair and Officers

Generations United, 202.777.0116

PRESS RELEASE                       For Release:  Immediate

Generations United welcomes new Board Chair and Officers

(Washington, DC) – Generations United announced the election of three new officers to its Board of Directors: Chair Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE; Vice Chair Walter Jones, Region President for Verizon; and Secretary Marla Viorst, an independent communications consultant. In addition, Paul Thornell, managing director of Federal Government Affairs for Citigroup, returned as treasurer. Francine Salamone, vice president of Corporate Affairs at Pfizer Inc., was elected as a new member to the Generations United’s Board.

Matthew Melmed,
who succeeds Larry Minnix (President & CEO, Leading Age), is only the third chair of Generations United’s Board and the first to come from the children and youth sector.

Matthew Melmed is the country’s leading advocate for babies and toddlers and has served on Generations United’s Board since 2006,” says Minnix, outgoing chair. “The new vice chair, Walter Jones, brings a great corporate perspective to our vital mission. Matthew and Walter are just what Generations United needs in governance leadership taking us forward.

“Larry is a tremendous leader, not only in his life but in his sector,” Melmed said. “I’m humbled to follow in his lead and work with this great Board to grow relationships and increase investments in Generations United so we can have an even greater impact.”

Generations United officers and new member bring deep and wide-ranging nonprofit and corporate experience to Generations United’s board:

Matthew Melmed is executive director of ZERO TO THREE, an organization that
promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers. He also served as the first elected Chair of the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of 55 leading national policy and advocacy organizations working to improve the health, education and well-being of America’s children and youth.  Additionally, he serves as a Trustee of the Turrell Fund in New Jersey and is past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Food Research and Action Center, the nation's leading hunger solutions organization.

Walter Jones is president of Consumer and Mass Business’ New York South/East region for Verizon, where he's responsible for delivering industry leading products and services to wireline customers in New York.  Prior to this position, he served as vice president of the West Area Network for Verizon Wireless. His professional career in telecommunications spans 24 years – including
leadership positions in operations, sales, and call center management.

Paul Thornell serves as managing director of Federal Government Affairs for Citigroup.  Prior to joining Citigroup, he served as senior vice president of Public Policy and Field Leadership at United Way of America, the nation’s largest charity. 

Marla Viorst is an independent communications consultant with 20+ years working with clients on a range of public affairs, policy and consumer issues. She has worked in some of the leading global communications agencies, including Fleishman-Hillard and Hill & Knowlton, at the lobbying firm Wexler & Walker, and on Capitol Hill as a spokesperson for Congresswoman Lois Capps. 

Francine Salamone is vice president of Corporate Affairs of Pfizer, one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies whose diversified health care and consumer products are commercialized globally. In this role, Dr. Salamone leads public affairs and policy teams to advance critical commercial goals across all business units operating in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and key markets in Europe.  Francine began her career at Pfizer in 1990 and held positions of increasing responsibility including roles in Regulatory Affairs, Business Development and Strategic Planning.

About Generations United
For nearly three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together.  We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nebraskans Grandstanding for the State's Young People

First Lady Sally Ganem will offer welcome remarks followed by presentations from national and local experts in a webinar scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The virtual discussion will revolve around ways grandparents can use their wealth of wisdom and knowledge to help the up and coming generation of young Nebraskans.

Other presenters include Generations United's Jaia Peterson Lent; ZERO TO THREE's Rebecca Parlakian; Diane Rolfsmeyer, of the Nebraska Early Childhood Network; and Crete Schools Superintendent Kyle McGowen. RSVP by emailing Diane Rolfsmeyer or calling her at 402-435-7211.

On Feb 1., connect to the webinar here. Prior to the webinar, please make sure your computer connects to the "UNL Extension Interview Room" (test now). If you have problems, contact Betty Castan. Learn more    

Young and Old Take on King's Unfinished Mission

by Donna Butts

No one told Martin Luther King Jr. he was too young to change the world.

Even without the aid of today's digital tools, he led a movement when he was 26. Young and old joined his causes, marching together for social justice and economic equality. Today, ordinary citizens are still reaching across race, class and age, often using social media to demand a world with opportunity for all King once envisioned.

To keep the momentum going, we need to take a psychologist's approach to how we see America's psyche and confirm our diagnosis before we can move forward with a solution. That's how King was able to accomplish what he did, according to Dr. Jennifer Leigh Selig, who chairs the Jungian & Archetypal Studies department at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California.

"His treatment of the country paralleled Karen Horney's treatment of the neurotic: he helped his client -- the country -- to see the gap between her ideal self and her real self," according to Selig's paper, "The Unfinished Mission of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." "He used marches and protests and demonstrations to bring America's shadow to the surface where she could no longer deny its existence, and then... he offered her specific redemptive measures she could take toward healing and wholeness."

Now, nearly 60 years since the Montgomery Bus Boycotts -- when King reenergized the civil rights struggle -- our ways of bringing America's shadow to the surface is a far cry from picket signs and marches. Today's "depth psychologists" -- as Selig would call them - are online, organizing through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

read the full article at the Huffington Post

Friday, January 17, 2014

Generations United in the news

A group of teens traveling to D.C. for this weekend's youth convening caught the attention of the Bowie Blade-News.

Camp Fire’s Teens in Action Program are among the 35 amazing young people recognized by Generations United and Mentor up, a new way to make a difference from AARP Foundation, for developing and leading creative age-amped (intergenerational) programs in their communities to address the needs of vulnerable adults aged 50 and over. 

You can follow these youth through their leadership training program by visiting our Facebook page and Twitter account. You can also stay tuned by subscribing to our e-newsletter, Generations This WeekClick here to read the Bowie Blade-News piece, then click here to learn more about our Youth Jumpstart Grants.

Friday, January 10, 2014

University Students and LBFE Elders Share Lessons on Aging and Friendship

Back to school for elder Ginnie and North Park student Kathryn
This post -- along with the photos -- appears courtesy of 2014 edition of Friendship, a print newsletter of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, Chicago Chapter.

“When we go to visit Ginnie, it’s not school work, it’s not going to see an elderly lady. For me it’s getting to visit a friend,” wrote Phoenix, a student at Chicago’s North Park University. She is one of many students who benefited from Stories from a Graying America, a college course that brings students into direct contact with LBFE elders.

The course was developed by Lee Strickland, affiliate instructor of dialogue at North Park, in partnership with Christine Bertrand, LBFE’s intergenerational program coordinator. LBFE elders and North Park students are brought together for the duration of the course about aging in America. It’s a general education course with a service learning focus, which incorporates ways for students to give back to others.

“At North Park, we train students for lives of significance and service with a special emphasis on urban engagement,” says Strickland. “We encourage students to develop authentic relationships in the community and get out of the classroom to do meaningful service.”

Students learn about the issues and challenges of aging in society through reading, watching films, participating in classroom discussions and, most important, interacting with those who actually are aging in America.

A North Park University Student working with elder Dorothy
The students meet once a week in class and count their visits with elders as their second weekly class. Two students are paired with an LBFE elder. “By forming friendships with elderly neighbors, we learn their stories, needs and contributions,” says Strickland. “We participate in intergenerational dialogue, which is also intercultural.”

Vital Opportunities

The first course offered in partnership with LBFE was in fall 2012. By the end of the spring 2014 semester, more than 80 students will have participated. A core group of 10 elders volunteers each semester, with some new elders joining and others occasionally opting out. Strickland and Bertrand continue to revise and refine the course as they get feedback from students and elders.

Says student Christiana: “Before, I never paid attention to the elderly I saw on the streets. The determination and will to do things is what I admire most about the elderly after taking this course. I also learned that elderly people like to interact with different age groups and not just people their own age.”

Students and elders also have a lot of fun. “My partner and I agree that neither of us has ever met an elder like Marguerite who was more active than us!” says student Dontrell.

For elder Joyce, who has participated since the first semester, the interaction with the young people is invigorating. “You forget your aches and pains when they come over,” she says.

Bertrand appreciates the chance to offer elders a way to be engaged in the community and to benefit others by sharing their experience. Strickland notes, “The most important thing you can do for elders is not let their talents be wasted – the elders have so much to give.”