May kicks off the 55th annual Older Americans Month! Led by the Administration on Aging, Older Americans Month got its start in 1963 with a designation by President John F. Kennedy to “honor and celebrate the contributions of older Americans in our communities and our nation.” This year’s theme, Engaging at Every Age, “emphasizes that you are never too old (or young) to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It also celebrates the many ways in which older adults make a difference in our communities” (oam.acl.gov, 2018).
“This is my favorite theme so far,” says Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) resident Julia Strimer who embodies what it means to be engaged in the communities and causes she finds important. A retired Trenton High School English teacher, Julia recalls, “It was easy to engage the ‘A’ students. I liked to focus on the ‘lost sheep.’” In addition to Julia’s usual teaching load, she taught summer and night school classes to reach those students who might have otherwise failed. “Everyone has a gift to offer,” says Julia. “The trick is finding ways to unlock it.”
“It’s important to find ways to display and celebrate every person’s talents and to seek ways to affirm their stories,” Julia adds. “What are your passions? What issues make you want to take action?”
For Julia, this list includes everything from participating in Artful Aging classes offered at CRC as part of a grant from Aroha Philanthropies, to advocating for human rights by volunteering to help the City of Chelsea’s Human Rights Commission. For last month’s Earth Day celebration, she led efforts at CRC to help end plastic pollution by encouraging her neighbors to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers at meals. Julia is a member of CRC’s SPEIC group (Social, Political, Environmental Issues Committee).
“It’s so important to not only be in the community,” says Julia, “but to be in the community doing something meaningful that benefits other residents.”
This month, we look forward to sharing the ways in which other members of our UMRC family are “Engaging at Every Age.” To learn more about UMRC, visit www.umrc.com.