Meet the New Director of Rainbow Seniors at our Holiday Potluck

RainbowSeniorsBizcard2016
invites you to

Meet the New Director of Rainbow Seniors
at our
Holiday Potluck
Kenneth Mercure headshot

Kenneth Mercure

A message from the outgoing director:

My dear Rainbow Seniors and friends,
I am delighted to introduce you to Kenneth Mercure, the new Director of Rainbow Seniors.

Kenneth is a born organizer. A Berkshire County native, Kenneth’s earliest effort was the founding of an LGBTQ youth program in Great Barrington – at age 15! The group flourished for two years.

Kenneth began working as a Lyme disease community organizer and patient advocate in 2010. Kenneth went on to found the Lyme Alliance of the Berkshires, which has grown from a support group into a full-fledged organization that holds monthly meetings and workshops. Kenneth works directly with those affected to help them educate themselves and their families and to guide them in the direction of the care they need. To date Kenneth has moderated 70+ meetings.

I first became aware of Kenneth last year when he contacted Rainbow Seniors to learn if we were planning a countywide Pride celebration. We weren’t, so Kenneth assembled a large and enthusiastic volunteer team and they created one – last June’s successful Pride Festival in the Pittsfield Common, attended by over 500 beautiful and diverse people.  It was a wonderful example of inclusivity that gave the emerging LGBTQ community a voice. Berkshire Pride has since grown to be more than just a festival and is now working to help grow the community through a variety of events.

I was delighted when Kenneth expressed interest in the job of Director, and after a few conversations about our shared sense of the Rainbow Senior’s mission (including securing funding to support our activities and services into the future), Kenneth was hired.

We will work as co-Directors for a month or two, until Kenneth gains his sea legs and is ready to lead Rainbow Seniors into a solid future.

I am proud of Rainbow Seniors and feel confident that Kenneth will preserve and grow our merry band.RainbowSeniorsBizcard2016

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Rainbow Seniors

Did Judy Garland steer us wrong?

St Patricks Day 1

The pot o’ gold isn’t OVER the rainbow.

It’s at the END!

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day anyway. Old-school.

at the

Rainbow Seniors Potluck

Tuesday, March 21 at noon

First Congregational Church of Williamstown

Corner of Route 2 and Chapin Hall Road

shamrock  Rainbow Seniors will supply a hunk of corned beef.

shamrock Maybe others will contribute corned beef too?

 shamrock Maybe people will bring cabbage or boiled potatoes?

shamrock  Or just dump some green food coloring into your tuna casserole.

Whatever we eat will bring us the Luck o’ the Irish

. . . because we will all be together.   

AARP says: “older gays and lesbians will face unique challenges as they age.”

gay-marriage
LGBT Advocate looks at the future for Rainbow Seniors

 
Michael Adams is executive director of SAGE, the nation’s largest and oldest organization working to improve life for LGBT older adults.
 

America’s older population is growing, and so is the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults who are moving into their later years. In the next several decades, LGBT adults age 65 and above is expected to double, reaching more than 3 million by 2030.

Older gays and lesbians are half as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have family to lean on for elder care.

 

In my job as executive director of SAGE (that’s for Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders), I’m constantly hearing about the unique challenges facing our community. These are the five main things we need to change if we want our society to be prepared for the full diversity of its aging population.

There are five main areas covered in this story:

1. Basic Health Care 

2. Caregiving Issues

3. Financial Insecurity

4. Social Isolation

5. Access to Aging Services

 

More proof that groups like ours are needed

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The Williams Institute Releases New Report on LGBT Older Adults Highlighting Isolation, Discrimination, and Health Disparities  
Report is basis for recommendations that federal agency target resources to LGBT seniors

In LGBT Aging: A Review of Research Findings, Needs, and Policy Implications, Soon Kyu Choi and Ilan H. Meyer provide a review of what is known about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) older adults.

Some key findings include:

  • Researchers estimate that there are over 2.4 million LGBT older adults over age 50 in the U.S., with the expectation that this number will double by 2030
  • Older lesbians, bisexual, and gay men have higher prevalences of mental health problems, disability, and disease and physical limitations than older heterosexual people
  • Transgender older adults are also at higher risk for poor physical health, disability, and depressive symptoms compared to cisgender adults
  • LGBT older adults are also resilient and find support through chosen families and informal support networks such as LGBT community organizations and religious networks
  • LGBT older adults need to be recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a “greatest social need” group, opening up important funding avenues to prioritize services for this group
  • Anti-discrimination legislation and expanding the definition of family to include families of choice are policies that should be taken into consideration
  • LGBT older adults are a growing population likely in need of more frequent health care and social support. Culturally sensitive training for service providers could be critical in alleviating expectations of and experiences of discrimination that many LGBT older adults fear when seeking help

In addition, the LGBT Aging report was the basis for the submission of recommendations by several Williams Institute scholars to the Administration for Community Living (ACL).  ACL is considering new guidelines for the targeting of resources to older Americans who have the greatest social and economic need.

The Williams Institute’s submission to the ACL highlighted research on the ways in which discrimination and stigma related to sexual orientation and gender identity can limit the degree to which older LGBT adults experience full inclusion in society and are able to access available services and supports.