By Colleen Morrissey
Organized each May by the Administration for Community Living, Older Americans Month puts a much-needed spotlight on celebrating the contributions of older adults.
The theme for this year was “Age Out Loud,” and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services marked the occasion by seeking out older adults who are staying engaged by volunteering, exploring second careers, and making differences in our community.
This turned out to be an easy task. Working with the Councils on Aging, Somerville Media Center, and the Somerville Community Corporation, we met many interesting people, with compelling stories to tell. The list includes:
- Elaine Parris Brown, who founded an outreach ministry to provide education and advice to older adults through the Abundant Life Church in Cambridge. “Share what you have,” she advised. “You’re worthwhile, no matter what your age is.”
- The Watercolors Class at the North Cambridge Senior Center. The weekly class is a mix of beginning and experienced painters. “I never could master watercolor. But now I’ve been more willing to try and to fail,” said a former art teacher in the class.
- Pina Mingace, who volunteers at the Somerville Council on Aging. Pina’s next adventure will be teaching an Italian language class there. “When I hear the word ‘no’,” she said, “that’s like a swear word to me.”
- Joe Lynch, who hosts the Greater Somerville show on Somerville Community Access Television. “It’s my advice for older people to find what you like to do,” said Lynch. “If the door opens for you, try it! If you don’t like it, you didn’t lose anything.”
- The First Thursday Writing Class at the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center. Some are trying writing as a new interest in retirement, while others spoke of how they enjoy the connection between the group members.
- Cecilia Estevam and Avany Sampaio, who just completed the Somerville Community Corporation’s annual Leadership Development Institute. The pair have volunteered at a variety of organizations, including the Cambridge Hospital. “I like to be involved with the community and help,” said Sampaio,
- The Watercolor Painting Class at the Cambridge Council on Aging. “I think your life depends on how you think of yourself,” said one participant.
In announcing the Age Out Loud theme, the Administration for Community Living said their goal was to heed the voices that are describing the changing face of aging. Our own experience with this project was that we met many people who’ve led interesting lives, and were dedicated to continuing that trend. One of the local voices we met may have put it best:
“I’ve noticed that as my peers turn 60, they no longer look forward to retirement, but to a second act,” said Joe Lynch.
Colleen Morrissey is a community relations and resource specialist at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES). SCES is a private, non-profit agency dedicated to improving the quality of life and maintaining the dignity and independence of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information about SCES, visit eldercare.org or follow SCES on Facebook and Twitter.