The NYC Coalition on Vision & Aging
The NYC Coalition on Vision & Aging is a unique collaboration among the five major vision rehabilitation providers in New York City, whose shared agenda was increasing independence and improving quality of life for older people experiencing vision loss.
The Coalition’s primary objective has been to work toward the enhanced utilization of vision rehabilitation services among older adults in New York City who have, or are at risk of, vision loss. Among its many achievements to date have been the creation of a training curriculum to educate interpreters about the many issues facing limited English proficiency elderly who are experiencing vision loss; modifying the Health and Hospitals Corporation’s (HHC) WeCoach program – targeting patients aged 60 and older with uncontrolled diabetes – to include eye health and vision rehabilitation service information and provide WeCoach staff with a referral mechanism for clients; and Working with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to promote and recognize vision loss as a public health issue. ANYF served as its fiscal conduit, provided operational oversight and program management. The Coalition continues to play a significant role striving to improve the welfare of older adults with vision loss, and may be reached through its website through its website: nycvisioncoalition.org.
The Fund’s unique affiliation with the DFTA and the City positioned it well to understand the pressing needs and gaps in services for older adults. Building on its history and proven track record of devising creative approaches to gaps in services, the Fund initiated educational forums in 2014 to encourage critical dialogue. The first, held in May, highlighted Healthcare Reform and Aging Services Connections. The second, in October, 2014, was on Food Insecurity.
Food Insecurity Educational Forum
In 2014, the Fund selected thought leaders from academia, advocacy, government, and not-for-profit senior food providers to formulate recommendations for the City’s consideration. As a result, food insecurity forums have been held in communities throughout NYC where food insecurity is the highest. We’ve held them in Harlem, Central Harlem, Bedford Stuyvesant, The South Bronx and coming up on April 6th in Jamaica at York College.
In October of 2014, ANYF followed this inaugural forum with a track held during the New York State Society on Aging’s Annual Conference. The focus of this track was on Food Insecurity with a panel of experts in the field, followed by a White House Conference on Aging 2015 facilitated dialogues among invited guests.
Innovating Senior Services
Innovating Senior Services has led to increasing access to healthy food for seniors living in food-insecure neighborhoods by:
- involving them in decision-making and advocacy,
- constructing a web-based nutrition management application to improve those served meals
- using technology to improve health and fitness, and
- testing new protocols in late life depression and anxiety among clients of elder abuse.
Integrated Benefits Program
In the spring of 2015, the Fund launched its Integrated Benefits Program, which aims to address the needs of NYC seniors who experience significant financial and medical stresses and food insecurity. Many seniors need help accessing entitlement programs such as SNAP, (formerly known as “Food Stamps”), the Medicare Savings Program, SSI, EPIC and Medicare Part D, Medicare Buy-in Programs and Medicare “Extra Help,” Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program and the Home Energy Assistance Program. This pilot was designed to both measure the anticipated increase in applications, and also test the ability to sustain a long-term effort utilizing volunteers.
Superstorm Sandy Rebuilding
ANYF played a key role in rebuilding the network of senior centers after Superstorm Sandy. It assisted those senior centers most affected by Sandy and their rebuilding efforts by helping to cover the cost of essential equipment and supplies necessary to restore them to full service capacity. Another equally important element of this project was the provision of mental health supports to storm victims. Private insurance and FEMA reimbursements covered a significant percentage of costs incurred; there were sizable gaps in coverage, and the Fund worked in partnership with DFTA and others to cover that gap.
Grandparent Resource Center
The Grandparent Resource Center assists older adults raising their children’s children. The Center provides counseling, advocacy, support groups, and referrals to services and entitlements. The Foster Grandparent Program recruits low-income seniors and brings them together with “at-risk” youngsters and infants for the benefit of both. The Intergenerational Program recruits students who receive course credits toward high school graduation and invaluable work experience by forging relationships with frail elderly while seniors gain an opportunity to mentor the next generation. In addition, participants also receive scholarship assistance through Scarfia scholarships. ANYF helps to administer grant funds related to each of these programs.
Foster Grandparent Program
The Department for the Aging has administered the Foster Grandparent Program funded by the Corporation for National & Community Service (Senior Corps) for the last 41 years. The Foster Grandparent Program provides volunteer opportunities for people aged 55 and older from all educational, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds to serve children with special and exceptional needs and their families.
Foster Grandparents volunteer between 15 to 40 hours a week in community based organizations located throughout the City—public schools, shelters for the homeless and abused, hospitals, and day care and Head Start centers. Volunteers who meet certain income guidelines (200% of the national poverty level) receive a small, non-taxable stipend of $2.65 per hour, which enables those living on limited incomes to serve at no cost to themselves.
Assistance with the cost of transportation, a daily meal, an annual physical exam, and on-duty accident and liability insurance are also provided to all volunteers. Volunteer activities include tutoring, teaching remedial academic skills, motivating, socializing, mentoring, listening, counseling, serving as role models, reading aloud, holding and caring for babies and children with illnesses and physical disabilities, teaching practical living and coping skills.