Vital Aging Network e-Bulletin
A Critical Point in Our History ---- A Call to Action!  
by Mark Skeie, Executive Director
If you are a supporter of the Vital Aging Network or are interested in what we do, please do us the favor of reading this message from start to end. Thank you!

The Vital Aging Network is a fluid grassroots organization with a history of reinventing itself as the needs of people 50+ and the environment surrounding us changes. We have arrived at a crossroads that requires us to take on a new round of invention.

Audience members
Our mission is to foster self-determination, civic engagement and personal growth for people as they age. We believe that people have the power to have a positive impact on their own lives and to be catalytic leaders in our communities and in society.

Our mission is as timely ---- and maybe more critical ---- now as it has ever been. The challenge today is finding the resources ---- both financial and human ---- to continue to provide and expand the excellent programs and services that VAN has delivered over the past 16 years.

Here are some highlights of how we are making a difference:
  • Aging with Gusto helps people to deeply examine their views about aging, create a more positive narrative about what it means to age and make action plans for aging well and for fighting ageism. VAN has led more than 20 sessions with 350+ participants.
  • In 2016, we completed a three-year "alpha" pilot of our Wellness 50+ program. Team members in four communities ---- Alexandria, Hamline Midway, Oakdale and Phillips ---- have done exception work engaging community members in improving health and well-being for themselves and for others in their communities. We are looking forward to establishing "beta" pilots in additional communities in the coming year.
  • More than 300 have completed Evolve: Re-igniting Self & Community. Participants continue to make positive impacts in our communities long after the course completion. We just learned that an idea initiated by Evolve participants ---- partnering with the YMCA on a new community center ---- is being considered by the city of Bloomington.
In the past, we have benefited from a rich blend of funding from national and local foundations, sponsors, fees for services and individual donations. In recent years, and due to a variety of reasons, several of those funding sources have all but disappeared.

A way forward, and how you can help
We are charting a new path for the future with a greater dependence on volunteer leadership, financial contributions from our members, sponsorships and fees for services. We are excited about our future, but we NEED your help.

Here are six ways you can help:
  • Do you know a business, organization or group that would sponsor an Aging with Gusto workshop? We offer community-action workshops (4 to 6 hours in one to three sessions) or a 6-hour CEU workshop. Make a connection for us!
  • Would your community be interested in establishing a Wellness 50+ pilot? All you need is a champion who is willing to help organize, and access to a small amount of community financing for the effort. Let us know and we will follow up.
  • In the past, VAN Forums have been an essential way for us to stay connected. We have lots of ideas for forums but we need a small group of dedicated volunteers to plan and implement forums. Will you volunteer to help?
  • Are you good at the nuts and bolts of an organization? We need administrative help keeping our Quickbooks, creating and distributing our e-Bulletin, organizing events and more. What skills do you have that you can apply to making VAN work?
  • Do you want to be involved at the strategic level? Join the VAN board. Learn about the board member role. Download the application.
  • Maybe you already gave generously to VAN in 2016. If you did, thank you! Even if you haven't in the past, NOW is the time to contribute. No matter how much of our work is covered by volunteers, we have operating costs and we need staff support. Your contributions are critical to our survival. Please contribute today!
We are extremely grateful for your on-going support of the Vital Aging Network and look forward to your generous spirit and participation as we redesign VAN for the coming years.
Be a part of VAN's future---Take action now! Let us know how you can help. Contact Mark Skeie at 651-917-4652 or .
Make a Donation
Do you value the contribution that the Vital Aging Network makes in
our community and in your life? If you do, please consider making a contribution to keep VAN strong.

Or save the financial fees and send a check to us at Vital Aging Network, 2365 McKnight Road, North St. Paul, MN 55109.

 Thank you in advance!
Let's talk aging!

Whether we're 6, 66 or 106, aging is happening to all of us . . . if we're lucky. That's not going to change. But what can change is how we view aging and how we treat one another and ourselves as we age.

According to Yale University researchers, negative stereotypes of aging become negative self-perceptions later in life. Often these perceptions operate below awareness, yet have a dramatic impact on quality of life, health and even longevity.
Join us for this engaging day of introspection, discussion and connection led by the Vital Aging Network and sponsored by East Side Neighborhood Services .
Free and open to everyone! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017  
10:00 AM to 2:30 PM 
East Side Neighborhood Services
East Side Neighborhood Services
1700 Second St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

East Side Neighborhood Services will
provide complimentary lunch for this session.

Registration required by March 16. 

Download a flyer
Register now

For information contact East Side Neighborhood Services at

We Can Protect Medicare  
It took mere days for the new Congress to start discussing fundamentally changing the nation's health care system---including Medicare. AARP is actively opposing proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher system which would drive up costs for current and future retirees, and erode protections that Americans have earned through many years of hard work and taxes.
AARP Real Possibilities logo 
President Trump has said repeatedly that he is going to "protect Medicare," but his allies in Congress seem not to have noticed.
Vouchers are the wrong answer for Minnesota and would put the benefits of 860,544 seniors' and the guarantee of benefits for 1,130,758 workers over the age of 50 at risk.

Over the next few weeks, AARP Minnesota staff and volunteers will meet with members of Congress to fight back against efforts to shift Medicare costs onto seniors. To find out how you can get involved contact Raa Yassin at 651-726-5642 or at .

Wellness 50+ Initiatives Going Strong

Wellness 50+ Pilot Program Final Report
We are proud of the outstanding work the Wellness 50+ teams have done Alexandria, MN; the Hamline Midway neighborhood in Saint Paul; Oakdale and the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis. The three-year pilot is done but their work is just beginning.

The final pilot report is now available. Thanks for HealthPartners and the Bush Foundation for their financial support.

Wellness 50+ is a grassroots approach to improving the health and well-being of older adults. Teams of older adults act as community catalysts for positive health-related behavior change for themselves and others. The teams identify assets in their communities, connect people with those assets and create supportive environments to help people make and achieve goals.

By putting the planning and implementing in the hands of community members, Wellness 50+ produces innovative, sustainable solutions that are tailored to each community's specific needs.

PRIME Productions and the Wisdom of Age

Little Wars by Prime Productions
PRIME Productions, a new theatre company, wants to provide more paid work for talented, mature theatre artists, particularly women, who see opportunities after "a certain age" dwindle and often disappear.

Alison Edwards, Elena Giannetti and Shelli Place, combining 110-plus years of onstage and production experience, believe the performing arts are critical to shaping dialogue around issues of women's roles and an aging population.

Shelli says, "Sometimes I think, as I'm reading my AARP magazine, why am I trying to do this at this point in my life?" She says she is in it for the long run and "it will be nice to know that, as actors mature, there will be a place for them to play."

Men and artists of all ages are also invited to participate. Their first production is by a male playwright and features seven female characters ranging in age from 22 to 65.

The play, Little Wars, by Steven Carl McCasland, opens at Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis on May 6 then runs Thursdays through Sundays until May 21.

It centers on an imagined gathering in the French home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas just before France falls to Germany in June 1940. Guests include Agatha Christie, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and a mysterious American woman in an evening of drinks, dinner and intrigue with intelligent verbal sparring and provocative wit.

The playwright will attend and participate in a post-show discussion on May 12th. Tickets and more information at : .

Brain study banner

Be Part of a Major New Study of
Brain Connections across the Adult Lifespan

The Lifespan Human Connectome Project Aging (HCP-A) Study will enroll 1,500+ healthy adults ages 36-100+ to discover how individual experiences affect the ways in which different parts of your brain are connected and how these connections (the "connectome") change across healthy adulthood.
Who can participate?
  • Ages 36-100+
  • Female or Male
  • In good health
  • No diagnosed history of neurologic or major psychiatric disorder
Learn more . To participate, call or write our team member Hannah Alves: Phone: 612-301-1788 Email:

Get Your Copy Now
Mapping Your Retirement book cover
Looking for a retirement, birthday or holiday gift? Here's a great idea and, for a limited time, at a reduced price.

Mapping Your Retirement: A Personal Guide to Maintaining Your Health, Managing Your Money, and Living Well  
"One of the most balanced and practical tools I have seen. It has the potential to become a classic in its category."---Amy Lindgren, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Learn more about the book.

Regularly priced at $16.50 now $8.50

Buy the Book 

Volunteer Opportunities
Vital Aging Network
Various Roles 
Be part of the Vital Aging Network team. The Vital Aging Network is looking for individuals who are seeking a challenge and to become part of a meaningful team. We need a variety of different skills, from writing, bookkeeping, to business planning and development, with a flexible time commitment. If you are interested please contact Mark Skeie at 651-226-9578 or

RSVP will connect you with great volunteering. Of our many great volunteer opportunities with partner agencies, two are:
Hospice Volunteer
Give your attentive presence to another: share your big heart and listening ear as a visiting companion to an assigned patient (you would not do any hands-on care). Your support can allow a caregiver some time away to run errands, visit a friend, or get a much-needed rest. Volunteers needed throughout greater Metro area. Contact Jyni at 612-704-6116 or

Adult Basic Education/English Language Learner Classroom Assistant
Brooklyn Center. Work one-to-one or in small groups with adult students for 2-4 hours a week. You will meet motivated adult learners from all over the world and gain the satisfaction of helping them meet their education goals. Contact Mary at 612-704-6114 or

Airport Foundation MSP
Various Roles 
New volunteers are always welcome to join the Airport Foundation's volunteer program. A variety of positions are available, most at MSP International Airport. The program's flexible schedules and unique opportunities attract volunteers from all walks of life. Travelers Assistance (TA), including Navigators, Service Specialists and Go Guides, provides help to passengers throughout the airport. Volunteer orientation sessions will be held at the airport on Saturday, March 11 and Saturday, April 8 from 9:30 AM to 12 PM. Potential volunteers should submit an application form. Additional information and a link to the application.

Ramsey County

Frequent Filer (Office Assistant) 
Volunteer office assistants are needed in several areas. Multiple shifts available, Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Midway area and downtown St. Paul locations limited reimbursement for parking expense or bus fare is provided. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age. Contact Ramsey County-Volunteer Services at 651-266-4090 for additional information or e-mail to

Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging
Health Insurance Counselor 
The world of Medicare can be a maze, and many seniors and persons with disabilities are getting lost! Become a Volunteer Health Insurance Counselor, and work one-on-one with individuals with Medicare in your area.

Senior Surf Day Volunteer 
Teach basic, hands-on computer and Internet training to seniors who have little or no experience with computers and provide them with the skills to access information on the Internet. Classes are held at various libraries and community centers.

To learn more about these opportunities and other opportunities available through the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging or to become a volunteer, please contact Colleen Fritsch at 651-917-4638 or or by visiting for more information.

Art Volunteer 
Let your inner artist shine by helping older adults experience the arts in multiple ways. Teaching artists from around the Twin Cities teach classes at Lyngblomsten and volunteers enhance the participant experience by being an encourager, helping with color coordination, turning pages of music, or holding a piece of clay. Days and times vary. Volunteers of all experiences encouraged to assist!

Brain Games Volunteer 
Brain Games, Trivia Leader, Mind Twister, whatever you call it, it's an interactive time with older adults (average age 87) at Lyngblomsten. Lyngblomsten residents and tenants love it when a volunteer comes and leads a thoughtful game, or maybe a scrabble game, or a card game.

Gift Shop Volunteer 
Where can you get a scooped ice cream cone for a dollar and a hot meal at lunch for $3.75? Anna's Café and Gift shop at Lyngblomsten! Volunteers help scoop the ice cream and run the cash register, as well as stock shelves and help customers find the "perfect" greeting card.

Visit for more information or call Shelli Beck at 651-414-5297.

Help At Your Door
Help At Your Door Volunteer Opportunities 
New Name, New Services for 2017!
Help At Your Door assists seniors and individuals with disabilities to remain in their own homes throughout the Twin Cities Metro area. Volunteers are the heart of our services and assist with our grocery, home maintenance, transportation and companion care services in a variety of ways. Volunteer from home to place grocery orders, fill orders at a participating store location, help out with light fix-it or homemaker tasks, or occasionally drive clients to and from a doctor's appointment or errand. Your help makes a significant impact on our client's ability to stay at home. For more information, call 651-642-1892, visit or contact

In the News

Next Avenue
Ashton Applewhite was selected as Next Avenues 2016 Influencer of the Year for being in the forefront of the movement to challenge ageist stereotypes and language. Check out Ashton's
blog at to get her perspective on what is, and is not ageist.
 Psychology Today
A new study by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine reports that 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity most days of the week may protect against accelerated biological 
aging caused by too much sitting. The researchers found that women age 50-79 with less than 40 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity who also remained sedentary for more than 10 hours per day had shorter telomeres, which are a biological marker for chromosomal aging .
Eating late or skipping breakfast can hurt your heart. Based on an article in the Journal of Circulation, AARP advises to: spread out your calories during a defined part of the day, try to eat most of your calories earlier in the day rather than later, and stick to a set schedule of eating at planned intervals. A haphazard eating schedule is worse for heart health and makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight .
Corporation for National and Community Service
Minnesota moved into #2 in the state ranking of volunteer rate in a recently released report. While the country overall had a small drop in volunteer rates, Minnesota had a small increase. Nationally, Gen X (age 35-44) had the highest volunteer rate (28.9%) follow by Baby Boomers (25.7%). For those who volunteered, the age group with the highest medium volunteer hours per year were those 75 and over (100 hours) followed by those 65-74 (88 hours)

The following calendar items are presented as information only. They are not Vital Aging Network events.

For Your Calendar

Tuesdays, March 28 - May 2, 2017
Powerful Tools for Caregivers
6:30-8:30 pm
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 4801 France Ave. S., Minneapolis
Are you feeling stretched caring for a loved one? This 6-week small-group education program is designed to provide you with a wealth of self-care tools that will help you take care of yourself while taking care of others. You will learn to reduce stress, improve your self-confidence, balance your life, better communicate your feelings, increase your ability to make tough decisions, and locate helpful resources. Sliding fee scale is available. Register by calling Mary Cordell at 952-977-9363.
April 2 -3, 2017
Minnesota Network of Hospice & Palliative Care ( MNHPC)
2017 Conference

DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomington - Minneapolis South
It's the largest hospice and palliative care conference in the Midwest and offers more than 60 sessions for all levels of skill. Information to attend, exhibit or support can be found on the website. 

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