The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) celebrated New York’s older volunteers and “the extraordinary value they bring to our state” at its annual Older New Yorkers’ Day event last week.
May is recognized nationally as Older Americans Month, where “we acknowledge the incredible efforts and diverse contributions older adults make to communities across the nation.” This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Connect, Create, Contribute,” which emphasized the importance of social connections with friends and families and that learning and engaging in activities are lifelong endeavors. It also recognizes the time commitment, talent and life experiences of older adults.
New York state works with its 59 area agencies on aging across the state to honor exceptional individuals, who, through their actions, demonstrate the spirit of civic engagement and selflessness. NYSOFA’s Older New Yorkers’ Day celebration took place on May 21 in Albany.
“Older New Yorkers across the state are making their communities the best they can be through their contributions and service,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. “Older adults contribute billions to New York’s economy through their selfless hours of community service and volunteerism. I’m proud that New York is the first age-friendly state in the nation, and we recognize the important impact older individuals have on their communities, the state and the country.”
“Older Americans Month and Older New Yorker’s Day are important opportunities to share with the public at large all of the contributions that are made by older New Yorkers,” said NYSOFA Acting Director Greg Olsen. “Older adults routinely put their family, life, and work experience to use at hundreds of different organizations across the state to better the lives of others. Aging is often portrayed negatively, and while May is a month to celebrate the accomplishments and value of older adults to our communities, it is up to all of us to tell their story throughout the year.”
In New York, approximately 935,000 adults over the age of 55 provide more than 495 million hours of service at an economic value of almost $13.9 billion annually. “Older adults are the backbone of our communities, and their social, economic, intellectual and civic contributions are essential to making our state a great place for people of all ages.”
Since 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched several initiatives to support older adults and “to make New York State the best place to grow up and grow older, including creating a ‘Health Across All Policies’ approach, where state agencies work together to develop policies and programs that positively impact public health; expanding the state’s prevention agenda to more comprehensively address the needs of older New Yorkers; launching the nation’s first aging services mobile app for older adults; and adopting the eight domains of livability for age-friendly communities as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and AARP.”
Under Cuomo’s leadership, New York was declared the first age-friendly state in the nation in 2017. And in 2018, the governor issued an executive order directing all state agencies to adopt and incorporate the principles of age- and health-friendly communities into their programs, policies, spending and reporting.
“NYSOFA’s annual Older New Yorkers’ Day event shows the true side of aging – that it’s not about artificial numbers that represent age, because how old we are is not what defines us. It is our actions, passions, commitments, perseverance and goals that define us – and an artificial number cannot be placed on these.”
More than 200 people attended this year’s celebration. Among them were 99 honorees from 56 counties who volunteer their time and energy to more than 520 different organizations throughout the year to help others. This year’s oldest honoree is 102 years old.
Special awards were given to the following honorees:
•The Governor’s Recognition for Exemplary Service was awarded to Lawrence and Maryde King of Schenectady County;
•The New York State Assembly’s Older New Yorker of the Year award was presented to Joann Prinzivalli of Westchester County;
•The New York State Senate’s Outstanding Contribution by an Older New Yorker award was presented to Ruth Johnson Colvin of Onondaga County; and
•The Area Agency on Aging Volunteer Innovations Award was presented to the New York City Department for the Aging Volunteer Resource Center.
The complete list of this year’s Older New Yorkers’ Day honorees is available at this link.
“Volunteering for just a few hours each month can make a big difference in people’s lives. There are thousands of local organizations and civic groups looking for volunteers each week. Please visit the Corporation for National and Community Service to search for opportunities in your area.”
About New York State Office for the Aging
The mission of the New York State Office for the Aging is to help older New Yorkers be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them. Visit www.aging.ny.gov.
All quotes from New York State Office for the Aging.