Community members and leaders got an inside look at how one local nonprofit is changing the way we view the aging experience.
Summit County, OH – August 22, 2018 – VANTAGE Aging, a nonprofit serving the needs of older adults in 38 Ohio counties, opened the doors to its newest headquarters in Akron. Aligned with National Senior Citizens Day, the community came together to celebrate the power of positive aging and learn about services available to older adults, regardless of income level.
The grand opening was a milestone marking the significant changes the agency has made to better serve aging populations and their families. VANTAGE President & CEO Karen Hrdlicka kicked off the event with a reminder of how important having a place to call home is to all of us.
“Having a home, a job, our health, and a sense of community is really the American dream and may be something we take for granted’” aid VANTAGE President & CEO Karen Hrdlicka. “We assume that as we get older, we will continue to enjoy all of those things and have the ability to age with dignity in our own home. Unfortunately for many older adults, aging in place has not been easy.”
More than 22% of Summit County’s population is age 60 or older, with the rate expected to grow within the next 10-15 years.
Over 600,000 seniors in Ohio are isolated and live alone, putting them at increased risk for hunger, mental health disorders, and falls. Increased lifespans are resulting in people needed to work later in life, but ageism and skill gaps keep older adults from gaining employment.
VANTAGE offers solutions senior issues with wrap-around programs aimed to tackle barriers to independence. The open house is a valuable opportunity for community members to understand the one-stop-shop nature of VANTAGE’s solutions for aging in place with dignity.
“We are able to introduce Meals on Wheels clients to our Home Wellness Solutions or RSVP Telecare program, giving them the security and help they need to stay in their own homes,” noted VANTAGE Board Chair Melinda Smith Yeargin. “We can also identify and address common challenges that accompany social isolation such as increased fall risks, depression, and malnutrition. This allows us to refer people to our Matter of Balance program or counseling through our Behavioral Health Solutions.”
Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro shared remarks during a ribbon cutting ceremony, noting on the crucial need for organizations like VANTAGE who address the needs of the community’s most vulnerable population.
Mayor Horrigan stressed the significant number of senior citizens in Akron who make up 17.5% of the population. When it comes to future goals for the city, inclusion is key.
“We want to build a welcoming city for all, not just one,” said Horrigan. “It is not just young people we want to come to the city. We want everybody to feel welcomed into the city.”
One of the city’s main goals is to increase mobility through the city commission’s Complete Streets initiative, improving infrastructure and neighborhood walkability, and working with METRO on public transportation.
Mayor Horrigan recognized the great value seniors bring to Akron through volunteerism and engagement in the community. He encouraged citizens to continue to push for improvements that work towards an age-friendly city, saying, “Sometimes, we do not have all of the answers. But if you continue to push us to be better, we guarantee we are going to respond.”
Also providing remarks at the VANTAGE Grand Opening was Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, who stressed the importance of meeting the needs of seniors. She spoke on the strength in partnerships among organizations within the county, the citizens, and the Summit County Department of Jobs and Family Services.
“We have a variety of different partners that work on senior issues, but I have to tell you VANTAGE is special,” said Summit County Executive Shapiro. “There is a heartbeat here that makes a big difference.”
An open house followed the ribbon cutting ceremony. It featured an ice cream social, giveaways, and tours of the new location. Attendees could walk around the new building and talk to each program director about services and opportunities available.
There was a selfie station where guests could take pictures with signs that promoted positive aging. The backdrop included SOAR, VANTAGE Aging’s Oscar-themed event in May that celebrates individuals and organizations who improve the lives of seniors. Nominations for the 2019 SOAR Awards are now open to the community and can be found at vantageaging.org/soar.
Who: VANTAGE Aging with remarks from Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan, VANTAGE President & CEO Karen Hrdlicka, and VANTAGE Board Chair Melinda Yeargin Smith.
What: VANTAGE Aging Grand Opening
Where: VANTAGE Headquarters at 2279 Romig Road, Akron
When: Tuesday, August 21
Please contact the Department of Community Engagement with any questions or for more information. You can reach the Director of Community Engagement Dawn Moeglin 330-253-4597 x160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about VANTAGE Aging, visit www.vantageaging.org.
About VANTAGE Aging
VANTAGE Aging (formerly Mature Services) provides high-quality programs to empower the economic, social, physical, and mental well-being of adults as they age. Our programs include home wellness solutions, mental health services and treatment for alcohol and other drug use disorders, job training, home-delivered and congregate meals, and volunteer opportunities. Founded in 1975 as a senior citizen program, VANTAGE has since become an independent, nationally respected organization with offices throughout the state.