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    Let the Conversation Begin

    By Dr. Marcy Adelman–

    In collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services (DAAS), the San Francisco Interfaith Council will host a half-day workshop on October 16 at which faith communities will engage in a rich discussion with DAAS and its partner organizations on serving the needs of our older adults and adults with disabilities. Rev. Jay Williams, the new Pastor of Glide Memorial Church, will deliver the keynote address.

    Congregations of all faiths aid and comfort their members, especially elders who are living with a chronic illness or disability. Faith communities therefore play an important life-affirming, and life-sustaining, role in the lives of frail elders. 

    Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director of DAAS, will discuss such challenges facing older adults and the services DAAS and its partners offer. Michael Pappas, Executive Director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, will discuss the perspective and resources the faith community brings in serving this population. There will be a panel discussion, breakout groups, and a resource fair. At the end of the half-day session, participants will consider establishing an ongoing form of communication.

    The dialogue is needed, in part, because the breadth of assistance offered by each church, synagogue or mosque is widely disparate, depending on the size and financial ability of the congregation. The range of services provided by each congregation may include education on aging issues and referral to services; direct assistance with in-home meals; spiritual and emotional support; transportation to doctor appointments; and home, hospital or nursing home visits by phone—and in person—by clergy, staff and fellow congregates.

    Faith communities offer unique ways to experience the joy of caring for others as well as the gift of being cared for by another. For many frail elders, especially those without a spouse or other family members to support them, faith communities are the trusted lifeline they rely on.  

    It would seem obvious—just common sense, really—that clergy and their congregations, and the one City department charged with caring for the needs of San Francisco’s older adults and people living with disabilities, should develop a working relationship and an understanding of what assistance each provides, and how they can best collaborate. On the surface, this appears to be a simple idea, but it is much more than that.

    It is groundbreaking.

    It took McSpadden, herself the daughter of a minister, to connect the dots and to develop this aspirational, first of its kind meeting. I asked her about the impetus for this event and she replied, “My father was a United Methodist minister. As a teen, I found myself drawn to older adults in our congregation. I’ve always thought that there should be a stronger partnership between faith communities and social services. I’m hoping this convening will help us forge a bond.”

    She will address the convening, and will present issues people experience as they age. She will also outline services provided by DAAS and community-based non-profits.

    Michael Pappas, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council, has also been deeply involved in developing this event. He will be presenting the perspective and information about the resources that the faith community provides. Pappas informed me: “Faith leaders are on the front lines of caring for aging adults and those living with disabilities.” It is his hope that “this important workshop will open a conversation with service providers in the City, enabling faith leaders to convey the basic challenges and resources needed to meet the demands of more effectively ministering to this critical sector.” 

    Tom Nolan, Chair of the DAAS/Interfaith event committee, expressed the excitement that many of us feel about this groundbreaking event when he said, “This will be an important, stimulating conversation centering on new and deepened collaborations among the faith community, DAAS, and community-based organizations. This is an exciting first step on our journey together on behalf of those we serve.”

    Let the conversation begin.

    Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in private practice, is co-founder of the non-profit organization Openhouse. She is also a leading advocate and educator in LGBT affirming dementia care and a member of the Advisory Council to the Aging and Adult Services Commission.


    Marcy Adelman Appointed to the California Commission on Aging

    All of us at the San Francisco Bay Times congratulate fellow columnist Marcy Adelman, Ph.D., on her recent appointment to the California Commission on Aging. Her term date is set to extend through October 13, 2020. This commission serves as the principal advocate body for older persons. Its activities include advisory participation in the consideration of all legislation and regulations made by state and federal departments and agencies relating to programs and services that affect older individuals; coordination with the Department of Aging in training workshops; preparing publishing and disseminating information about findings and recommendations regarding the well-being of older individuals; actively participating in, and advising the department on, the development and preparation of the State Plan on Aging; and meeting and consulting with the Area Agency on Aging Advisory Councils. Adelman, with her extensive background on aging issues—particularly those related to the LGBTQ community—is more than up for the tasks, and will no doubt become an invaluable member of this prestigious and respected commission.

    Faith Community & City: Coming Together to Support Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities

    Presented by the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services and The San Francisco Interfaith Council

    Monday, October 16
    8:30 am–12:00 pm
    St. Mary’s Cathedral (St. Francis Room)
    1111 Gough Street, San Francisco

    To register for the event, please go to: