Aging With Dignity
Aging can be an unpredictable process.
Medical needs, general health, finances and network of support are all concerns as a person grows older. Seabury Resources for Aging has worked to address the spectrum of needs for seniors in the greater Washington, DC area since 1924.
“We try to be an informational source for people,” said Kate Lewis, Seabury’s Chief Advancement Officer. “People are looking for different things.”
Seabury began as the Episcopal Church Home in 1924 with the donation of a single-family home for use by seniors in the community. More home donations followed, as well as the development of the Friendship Terrace Retirement Community, which can accommodate nearly 200 residents.
In the mid-1990s, the organization began to focus on services, recognizing many seniors’ desire to stay in their own homes as long as possible. In 2010, the organization rebranded itself as Seabury Resources for Aging, reflecting the group’s growth and open welcome to seniors seeking assistance.
“Because our services are free or affordable, we serve a lot of folks of modest income,” Kate said. She worries about homelessness and HIV, both of which she says are growing concerns in the aging community. By connecting aging adults with the assistance they need, Seabury works to help counter these problems.
Seniors still living at home can find free assistance through the Age-In-Place program, Seabury’s largest outreach. Volunteers - many of them high school students - rake yards, trim hedges, run the vacuum cleaner, and take care of other simple maintenance to enable people to stay in their homes safely.
Meal delivery, transportation, and social work assistance services also benefit many aging adults. Family-style or community Seabury homes serve seniors unable to live independently.
Kate points out that Seabury doesn’t exclusively serve seniors. The organization can be a reassuring presence for caregivers and families, especially adult children living too far to offer routine assistance to their parents. A Seabury social worker can offer counsel and mediation for families as a parent plans to transition from independent living to a Seabury residence or another assisted living home.
Seabury Resources for Aging has evolved over the decades, adapting strategies and outreach programs to connect to the community’s changing needs and become a powerful resource.
“We’re 90 years old,” Kate said. “We have the experience and the expertise.”
How I Was Helped
Dorothy Carracedo, 76, Retired
Q: How did you connect with Seabury Resources for the Aging?
A: I was taking WEHTS for transportation and then Seabury took it over. Also, my son located a Mom’s Meals person and that person told us about the Seabury office, and I called and Ms. Kenny came out to see me. She’s a social worker there. She still comes out to see me, and when I have a problem I call her. When I have problems getting rides, she helps me, and when I have problems with getting help from different agencies, she’s right there with me. I wouldn’t give anything for Seabury, I love Seabury.
Q: Why were you in need of Seabury's services?
A: I’m a 76-year-old, retired, disabled senior and I need all of the help that I can get. I have many doctor’s appointments, and when I go I need transportation. I’m on a fixed income and I can’t afford Metro access. Even though it’s not that much money, it’s a lot for me when I’m on fixed income. I have qualified so I get Medicaid help, Meals on Wheels, and other services that help me out with my budget.
Q: What intangibles have you taken away from your work with the organization?
A: Everything I’ve gotten from Seabury has been tangible, has been needed, has been used. I’m very pleased with the service I get from Seabury transportation. And the drivers are all wonderful drivers, wonderful people. They work with you, they act concerned for you. As I said, I’m very happy and fortunate to be with them. They’re doing a lot of good for me. And Ms. Kenny is wonderful. I can’t put her name out there enough!
Q: Do you feel you are now better equipped to pay it forward, and if so, how?
A: I have a lot of neighbors who are just like me--on fixed income, seniors. They don’t know where to go for different things. I find it easier to send them to Seabury, who can direct them or aid them, rather than tell them to call this place, call that place. That’s my gift back to my community.
How I Help
Khalilah, a retiree, has volunteered with Seabury since June of 2013. She currently volunteers 20 hours per week at the Kibar-Halal Nutrition Center, one of several locations hosting educational nutrition and wellness programs.
Q: What motivated you to work with Seabury?
A: I’m a retired citizen and a volunteer, and I like to give back to the community or whatever organization I belong to. After I retired and relaxed for a little bit, I decided to devote any sort of volunteer presence [I could].”
Q: What sort of work do you do in your capacity as a volunteer?
A: I help the managers put the food on the plate and I serve the seniors. It gives me something to do instead of sitting at home. I can come out four hours a day and help somebody out, make somebody smile, give them a coffee or sit down and talk to them for ten minutes. That’s it right there, to be able to do that.”
Q: What advice or inspiration would you offer other people looking to get involved in their communities
A: Wherever you go or whatever you read there’s always somebody doing some volunteering. There’s always someone giving their service. If everybody were to do this, there wouldn’t be too much of a problem of the seniors being left alone to themselves and not being able to do anything.
About the Author: Jessica Sillers is a Washington, DC-based writer. She has volunteered as a teacher's assistant in Faridabad, India, and on a farm in Ireland. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org