May Is Older Americans Month
Since 1963, communities across America have shown their gratitude to seniors' contributions by celebrating
Older Americans Month
each May. The theme of this year's celebration is "Get into the Act" to
focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, engaging with their communities, and making a positive impact on the lives of others.
The theme also reflects on the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, which Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided funding and a nationwide aging services network to help older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. These services include caregiver support, community-based assistance, and preventive health and wellness services. The creation of the Foster Grandparent Program and RSVP were part of this larger effort.
May Is Also Osteoporosis Awareness Month
54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, putting them at risk for breaks and fractures. Bone Builders classes, offered free through Friends RSVP, feature low-impact exercises that yield high-impact results.
These senior strength sessions improve bone and muscle strength, balance, circulation, and general health. Classes are held twice a week, year-round at local senior centers, senior housing buildings, and other locales. Friends RSVP-trained volunteers lead classes at 22 locations in Merrimack, Rockingham and Belknap counties. Over 2,000 classes are taught annually.
We recently heard from Byron Petrakis, who began attending sessions in Kingston seven weeks ago. He wrote, "As I look around at my peers in my Bone Builders class, [at 73] I am aware that I am one of the younger participants in the class, and one of the few males. However, I know that men, especially thinner ones like me, can also develop osteoporosis and thus become prone to broken bones. I find inspiration in the commitment to the exercise program that my older peers have been exhibiting while participating. Their enthusiasm is infectious and helps keep me motivated. I hope to be just like them when I grow up."
Thanks, in part, to sponsorship support from Concord Orthopaedics and the Bishop's Charitable Assistance Fund, Friends Bone Builders classes are free to attend, but registration is required.
To find the class nearest to you or register, call Friends RSVP Coordinator Katie Lynch at 228-7608.
Foster Grandparents in Goffstown
Bartlett Elementary School recently honored two Friends senior volunteers by declaring April 22 Foster Grandparents Day.During a school-wide assembly, Doris Demers (Miss Doris - 15 years of service) and Yvette Caron (Miss Yvette - 10 years) were recognized for their many contributions to the education of the school's children.
"They truly make Bartlett more special," said Principal David Bousquet. "We can't thank them enough for everything they do for us." Each was presented with flowers, balloons, and cards - as well as personalized signs to reserve their parking spaces.
Friends Foster Grandparents are volunteers who are matched with schools and non-profit childcare centers in seven N.H. counties to help teachers inspire a love of learning in children. Combined, these seniors devote 125,000 hours of annual service at 82 sites.
Mayors across N.H. and the U.S. Recognize Seniors' Service
Portsmouth Mayor Robert Lister (center) issued a proclamation in April recognizing the service of Friends volunteers over 55. Lister is pictured here with Director of Senior Programs Craig Saltmarsh and Foster Grandparent Coordinator Margo Toppan.
Last month, Friends staff and volunteers took part in the annual Mayors Recognition Day for National Service. Friends RSVP and Friends Foster Grandparents are two national programs affiliated with the Corporation for National and Community Service, which organized recognition events at 2,600 locations nationwide. Our staff were in Portsmouth with Mayor Robert Lister, himself an AmeriCorps alum, who recognized the contributions of our senior citizen volunteers and issued a proclamation of appreciation.