HOST ORGANIZATION: The New York State Office for the Aging works to "help older New Yorkers be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.”
CORPS ASSIGNMENT: When New York State joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities in 2017, it became the first state to enroll in the program. The Livable Communities Corps's work involves a variety of short-term, age-friendly projects at various locations with several different agencies.
A graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, Andrew Wrede was doing temporary work at the New York State Department of Health when he learned about the Livable Communities Corps opening. Although the specifics of the job weren’t listed, working for a nonprofit organization appealed to him. Upon being hired, Wrede quickly got up to speed on the mission of the New York State Office for the Aging and terminology such as “livable community” and ”age-friendly.”
THE NEED FOR THE WORK:
“The boomer generation is retiring," says Wrede. "It's important that they're not left behind, that the community cares for such a large population.”
Unlike the Livable Communities Corps members in other states, Wrede's assignments have been varied and short-term as opposed to one or two big projects. Basically, he jumped in wherever he was needed, on short notice.
Barbara Stubblebine, his supervisor and the chief of the New York State Office for the Aging, says, “Andrew has been a tremendous asset to New York State’s age-friendly team. His contributions have helped us advance our age-friendly goals, even during these difficult times.” Among Wrede's tasks and accomplishments thus far:
- Worked with the New York State Office for the Aging and the New York Academy of Medicine to develop a draft of an age-friendly tool kit and sample checklists for a proposed age-friendly business certification
- Helped the New York Academy of Medicine conduct environmental scans and background research for learning collaborative webinars on emergency planning and broadband technology
- Worked at a call center for the New York State Emergency Operations Center as well as one where he instructed callers with COVID symptoms on the protocols they should take
- Attended the New York Academy of Medicine Health and Age Across All Policies team meetings
- Participated in the New York Academy of Medicine's emergency planning webinar
- Helped the New York State Department of Health develop an age-friendly technical assistance manual to accompany the dashboard he’s developing in order to display public health measures, interventions and resources related to the state's 8 Domains of Livability goals. (A ninth domain on emergency preparedness is being added.)
- Did research about broadband access and the lack of or limits to it in certain parts of the state and among certain populations
- Worked at a COVID test site for a week
In addition to his age-friendly projects, Wrede has participated in New York State Emergency Operations Center assignments, including data entry for a survey of licensed nursing homes in the state. “I collected and did an Excel sheet on all the nursing home contacts and administration information,” says Wrede. “That’s a good example of something that functions as both a COVID response and an age-friendly response, because the same information can be used for age-friendly initiatives.”
CHANGE OF PLANS:
“There was a lot of zigging and zagging because of COVID,” says Wrede. “There's been so many surprises along the way. One of the big things I've taken away is just how phenomenal the response has been by the New York State Office for the Aging to COVID. They've been doing a great job dealing with the coronavirus and advancing age-friendly initiatives at the same time.”
“I've been setting much smaller goals," says Wrede. "But the larger stuff, such as the dashboard, technical assistance manual, helping counties out with their action plans, that's still doable.”
Reporting by Amy Lennard Goehner
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