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Spotlight on Innovations: Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week's focus is on the LGBT Senior Social Connection program from Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, winner in the Diversity & Cultural Competency category.

Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley's LGBT Senior Social Connection program provides lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults with a place to meet and support one another. As the first program of its kind in northeast Massachusetts, the LGBT Senior Social Connection program supports the unique needs and experiences of LGBT older adults by hosting monthly meetings to provide older LGBT adults with a positive, collegial and safe setting to share meals and speak openly.
 
As an Aging and Disability Resource Center with a long history of providing training on LGBT Elder Cultural Competency and Age Sensitivity, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley saw the importance of taking a deeper look at its own diversity and inclusion. A board member worked with a group of people with disabilities who led the development of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley's inclusion statement and self-assessment. These efforts led to the 2016 creation of the LGBT Senior Social Connection program.
 
With about 22 participants attending the program each month, many who participate say it is the only time during the month they get to spend with peers. For agencies interested in starting similar programs, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley recommends that agencies first go through a process of self-examination when developing similar programs, as diversity and inclusion efforts benefit staff, volunteers and the community.  
 
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!
 
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!
 
Thanks to the generous support of WellCare, the Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards 2019 application process will open in February, so watch your email for updates and consider nominating your agency's programs!

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