Friday, February 28, 2014

A Look Back at Past Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winners

Communities across America are developing innovative practices, programs and policies to solve challenges that benefit people of all ages.

Next month, we’ll honor the 2014 Best Intergenerational Community award winners: The Greater Phoenix Region, Arizona; City of Parkland, Florida; Reston, Virginia and Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin.

These age-optimized communities bring together people of all generations to improve neighborhoods, towns, cities, and counties.    

Intergenerational communities thrive because they build strong, supportive communities with fresh solutions to challenges that help people of all ages. They advance policies and practices that both acknowledge and promote intergenerational interdependence.
That’s why, starting today and through the weeks leading up to our March 25 event, we’re highlighting our past winners’ stories in three-part series that shows why age-intentional strategies are important.

First up, are our inaugural winners in 2012: Georgetown, Texas; Lamoni, Iowa and Oberlin, Ohio.

In Georgetown, TX, home to approximately 47,000 residents, no one entity plans or oversees the city’s array of intergenerational activities or initiatives. Instead, the city government, schools, businesses, and religious and nonprofit organizations all work collaboratively to identify opportunities and strengthen existing efforts.

The city government helps sustain intergenerational efforts in a number of ways. Using an Asset Based Community Development approach, it works to build the often underused “community assets” (talents) of seniors and youth.

The city is also a major contributor to the Georgetown Project, which funds social service and youth development organizations that help sustain intergenerational connections. Other city projects include helping to revitalize the historic town square so it now serves as an intergenerational gathering place; overseeing a new public library that includes space to foster intergenerational interactions; and building a new recreation center that includes a teen/senior center.

Things are just as busy in Lamoni, Iowa, where problem solving brings the generations together.

With a population of just under 2,500 residents, Lamoni has numerous strong intergenerational practices benefiting all ages. Graceland University students volunteer with school children, senior adults and local community organizations. High school students teach computer skills to adults. 

The weekly Lunch Buddies mentoring program brings mentors ranging from Graceland students to city employees, to Optimist Club members, to retired citizens to the local elementary school.

Additional intergenerational programs include a Service Learning Club that provides a wide array of services for older adults and Across Ages mentoring that pairs middle school youth with adults aged 55 and over.

That spirit of collaboration and community service are a big part of life in Oberlin, a city that’s built strong alliances with community organizations that ensure that Oberlin is an intergenerational community. 

The local government, Oberlin College, Oberlin City Schools, Kendal at Oberlin (a retirement community), Oberlin Community Services, Oberlin Heritage Center, Mercy Allen Hospital, and many other local organizations work closely together to develop programs that support and encourage interaction among different generations. 

Students from Oberlin College’s Bonner Center for Service and Learning work with the many community organizations to address concerns and challenges, using many intergenerational techniques to achieve the goals.  Read the full community profiles here.

Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce
San Diego County, California; Virginia Planning District 10 (2012 winners) and Dunedin, Florida (a 2013 winner).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Introducing...The Greater Phoenix Region!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 3 of our series on the 2014 Best Intergenerational Communities award winners. Read part 1 and part 2.

Known as the "Valley of the Sun," the Greater Phoenix region accommodates its over 3.4 million residents through intergenerational programs in 24 cities and towns. 

A talented and committed group of cross-sector leaders share responsibility for intergenerational communities.

Juanita Guidry Copeland, the Ambassadors of Compassion (AOC) program facilitator at Maya High School, saw the benefits first-hand while preparing high school students for the work world.

The retired training professional noted how the experience also benefits people like her.

"Seniors are enhanced when they help young people while the recipients learn from those whose lives have been lived successfully." Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce Village of Shorewood, WI.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Introducing...City of Parkland, FL!

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part 2 of our series on the 2014 Best Intergenerational Communities Award-winners. Read part 1 and part 3

The City of Parkland's got more going for it than its red-tiled stucco and stone mansions, golf courses, lakes and beautiful tourists-attracting parks. It's where 24,000+ residents of all ages benefit from a variety of programs, services and special events. 

The annual Winter Talent Showcase is a community favorite. "We audition many people in our community to get the best talent for the show," explained Alexa Naidus, a former member of Parkland's Teen Advisory Group, who produces the event at the Aston Gardens nursing home. 

Long-time Parkland resident and volunteer Beatrice Hawe can't contain her joy for the community: "I have made many new friends and could not imagine spending my senior years living anywhere else." Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce The Greater Phoenix Region, AZ

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Introducing...Reston, VA!

Click here to view larger photo

We announced our winners last week. Now, it's time to introduce them.

Starting today, this four-part series will continue through the weeks leading up to our awards event on March 25.

First up is Reston, VA (read part 2 and part 3).

Intent on being age-intentional, there are no senior centers in this community. Instead, senior programming's blended with those of children and youth at the Reston Community Center. 

"Many evenings and most weekends there are classes, activities, festivals and entertainment for young and old alike," wrote Delegate Kenneth Plum (D-Reston), a long-time resident.

He and his wife, Jane, raised four children in that community.

"As we contemplate retirement, we have decided that we will stay in Reston. Just as there were so many opportunities for us as a family, there are endless prospects for us as we grow older." Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce City of Parkland, FL

Registration's Now Open for 2014 Best Intergenerational Communities Event!

Join us on March 25 at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as we honor the communities that are best at serving and engaging all generations: The Greater Phoenix Region, Arizona; City of Parkland, Florida; Reston, Virginia and Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin. Learn about innovative programs and practices occurring in these communities to intentionally bring multiple generations together to thrive. Register today!

Friday, February 07, 2014

Are You Ready for the New 'America the Beautiful'?

by Donna Butts

Whoever thought "America the Beautiful" and Cheerios could be so controversial?

While a puppy and a horse won the hearts of Super Bowl viewers, a growing biracial family explained through Cheerios and a familiar song sung in various languages ignited a conversation.

Wake up and smell the demographics. America, are you open?

To try to find out, Generations United and the Generations Initiative commissioned a survey, engaged thought leaders and emerging experts, and together in December released the report "Out of Many One: Uniting the Changing Faces of America."

read the full article at National Journal

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

MetLife Foundation and Generations United Announce 2014 Best Intergenerational Communities

They are places that folks of all ages proudly call home because they recognize the benefits of  intergenerational programs, practice, policies and services. Please join us in applauding the recipients of the 2014 MetLife Foundation/Generations United Best Intergenerational Communities Award: Maricopa County, AZ; City of Parkland, FL; Reston, VA and Village of Shorewood, WI. In addition, kudos go to the 2014 National Finalists: Miami Gardens, FL and Rye, NY. Stay tuned to learn more about each community and our upcoming event on March 25 to celebrate the award winners.