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    San Francisco’s LGBT Welcoming Senior Housing and Longevity/Senior Activity Center

    By Dr. Marcy Adelman–

    Construction has begun adjacent to the Openhouse Community buiding at 55 Laguna on what will be the center of Openhouse’s hub of LGBT welcoming affordable senior housing and community services. The new Openhouse building at 95 Laguna will be home to 79 apartments and an activity center of 7000 square feet welcoming to all LGBT people, and especially LGBT older adults and people living with disabilities. The new activity center will be used for senior and inter-generational events and a wide array of what I call longevity enhancing classes and activities.

    I am both humbled and honored that the Openhouse board and staff and project partner Mercy Housing have named 95 Laguna the Marcy Adelman and Jeanette Gurevitch Openhouse Community in recognition of our visioning and founding of the organization. At the groundbreaking event on October 17, I spoke about Jeanette, my late partner who died in 2003. I knew there would be few people at the event who would have known or met her. I wanted to share Jeanette with everyone there, to bring her alive in our hearts and minds.

    I said, “Jeanette was a woman of extraordinary spirit, boundless energy and irrepressible humor. She was a psychotherapist in private practice. A trained social worker who understood how to effect change on both an individual and organizational level. She had a lifelong commitment to social justice issues and social change. In the 1960s she was a member of the radical psychology movement.”

    “Jeanette’s contribution to Openhouse spanned every facet of the organization. Together we wrote grants, advocated at City Hall, at affordable housing conferences, in the community, [and we] worked closely with the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association, with housing developers and senior housing and senior service providers. To everything Jeanette did she brought her spirit and her humor.”

    “Jeanette was a natural extrovert. I mean when you saw her, and you were about to greet each other, you knew she was going to greet you with a hug. But not just any hug. No, not just any hug at all. You would set yourself to receive her, plant your feet and then there it was, that huge hug, an embrace of genuine warmth and joy that brought a most beautiful smile to your face. That was Jeanette.”

    When the housing and activity center are completed in the fall of 2018, it will be a new beginning for Openhouse and San Francisco’s LGBT community. Today there are four generations of out and aging LGBT people: the silent generation, the boomers, generation X and the millennials. We are better together—stronger, wiser and more innovative. Together, we can better support and take care of each other.

    But this multi-generational experience is so new that we will need to learn how to work together and how to build community together. The richness of the experience is such that each one of us, whatever age we are at, at any one time and in any one relationship can be mentor, teacher, student, caregiver and care receiver. Healthy , purposeful aging all along the lifecyle will be enhanced by our ability to be connected generation to generation.

    Together, we will co-create a dazzling new future.

    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.