Celebration Toasts Accomplishments of Older Adults Engaged in Advocacy

Mayor George Heartwell and Grand Rapids Community Foundation President Diana Sieger will be among those speaking at an event on November 16 to celebrate the accomplishments of the Advocates for Senior Issues ‘Civic Engagement through Advocacy’ program.

For the past 18 months, Advocates for Senior Issues has offered this advocacy education program to neighborhood groups in Kent County. Participants have learned about state and local governments and advocacy strategies. Most importantly, they’ve gained hands-on experience, taking action steps on the issues that have mattered most to them. Groups have tackled issues ranging from landlords who neglect property to prescription drug access, transportation, graffiti and land use. Representatives from these groups will be at the celebration to share the successes they’ve achieved through issue advocacy.

“It was our experience that people were very interested in issues, but didn’t communicate their views to those who could make a difference. We felt this may be due to a lack of confidence in addressing officials or unfamiliarity with how to contact them,” said Tolly Stiffler, President of Advocates for Senior Issues. “Through our program we’ve empowered the participants to become active grassroots advocates for issues of local, state and national concern.”

Media are welcome to attend this event. Details are as follows:

  • What: Civic Engagement through Advocacy Celebration Event
  • When: Friday, November 16, 9-11 a.m., continental breakfast starts at 8:15 a.m.
  • Where: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

The ‘Civic Engagement through Advocacy’ program was made possible through a $50,000 grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. The grant was awarded in June 2006 as part of the Community Foundation’s Creating Community for a Lifetime initiative, which seeks to address the social and civic engagement needs of Kent County’s older adults.

About Advocates for Senior Issues: Advocates for Senior Issues was formed over 20 years ago as The Senior Senate. Today, this is a nonpartisan association of individuals and senior citizen groups that encourages discussion of issues of importance and influencing legislation. The Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan provides staff support to the primarily volunteer-led organization.

About Creating Community for a Lifetime: The Creating Community for a Lifetime initiative is an ambitious, long-term, community-wide initiative launched in early 2004 by the Community Foundation and Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. The initiative built a framework for long-term planning to address the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging community. The initiative is not a nonprofit organization, but an independent coalition convened to explore ideas about what constitutes an elder-friendly community and to articulate a shared vision for Kent County.

For more information, or to request an advance interview, please contact Amanda St. Pierre at 616.454.1751 x132.