By Pamela Austin
In tough times, communities find strength in people, and people find strength in their communities. In the past year, we’ve seen this time and again in the City of Alexandria as friends, neighbors and businesses have found new ways to support each other.
In our community, older adults are a key source of this strength. Through their experiences, successes and difficulties, they have built resilience that helps them to face new challenges. When communities tap into this, they become stronger too.
Each May, the Administration for Community Living leads the celebration of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme is “Communities of Strength,” recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities.
Strength is built and shown not only through bold acts, but also small ones in our day-to-day life — engaging in a conversation shared with a friend, working in the garden, trying a new recipe or taking time for a cup of tea on a busy day. And when we share these activities with others — even virtually or by telling someone about the experience later — we help them build resilience too.
This year, the Division of Aging and Adult Services will celebrate OAM by encouraging community members to share their experiences. Together, we can find strength and create a stronger future.
Here are some ways to share and connect:
Look for joy in the everyday. Celebrate small moments and ordinary pleasures by taking time to recognize them. Start a gratitude journal and share it with others via social media or call a friend or family member to share a happy moment or to say thank you.
Reach out to neighbors. Even if you can’t get together in person right now, you can still connect with your neighbors. Leave a small gift on their doorstep, offer to help with outdoor chores or deliver a home cooked meal.
Build new skills. Learning something new allows us to practice overcoming challenges. Take an art course online or try a socially distanced outdoor movement class to enjoy learning with others in your community. Have a skill to share? Find an opportunity to teach someone, even casually.
Share your story. There’s a reason storytelling is a time-honored activity. Hearing how others experience the world helps us grow. Interviewing family, friends and neighbors can open up new conversations and strengthen our connections.
When people of different ages, backgrounds, abilities and talents share experiences through action, story or service, we help build strong communities – and that’s something to celebrate. Please join DAAS in strengthening our community.
For volunteer inquiries contact Pamela Austin by phone at 703-746-5738 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact Volunteer Alexandria at volunteeralexandria.org. Find out more information about celebrating Older Americans Month at https://oam.acl.gov.
The writer is the aging and disability resource coordinator in the city’s Division of Aging and Adult Services.