Pennswood Village Residents and Staff Present at American Society on Aging Conference
This past March, several residents and staff of Pennswood Village traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the American Society on Aging (ASA) 2016 Aging in America Conference.
Pennswood Village presented two different sessions at the conference, reporting its results of the significant efforts made by residents and staff over the years.
The conference, which attracts more than 3,000 people annually, is a gathering of practitioners, business professionals, foundation leaders, direct service providers, policymakers, researchers, academicians and others. Session topics range from innovative ideas and legislation, to programs and research, and other topics that promote active aging and health. While many different retirement communities attended the conference, Pennswood was the only community that we are aware of, where residents not only attended, but also led conference sessions—a testament to the community’s focus on resident-led initiatives and personal growth.
Pennswood residents Alice Swann, MEd, Lorraine Pasadino, EdD and Elizabeth Serkin, PhD presented a 1-hour session at the conference titled “Laughing Matters: Lightheartedness in a Retirement Community.” Their session explored the efforts led by residents at Pennswood Village by creating opportunities for humor and play in the community to ultimately benefit all who live and work there.
In addition to the session on lightheartedness, Pennswood also presented a session on diversity. Over the past year, Pennswood has partnered with Friends Services for the Aging to plan and implement efforts for diversity on and off campus. They’ve hosted a number of workshops and events for staff and residents. During their session on diversity, they reported their results.
Marsha Wesley Coleman, MBA, director of leadership, development and training with Friends Services for the Aging; Charles Whitlock, LCSW, Director of Resident Life at Pennswood Village; and residents Elizabeth Serkin and Alice Swann presented a 1.5-hour workshop titled “Synergy Among Friends: Building Cultural Diversity.” The session revealed how Pennswood Village has created a unique opportunity for cultural growth. In their session, they described the success of the initiative resulting in cultural shifts, recognition of categories of diversity beyond ethnicity and ongoing community-building events.
“The conference was an amazing experience where staff, residents and members of Friends Services for the Aging came together to encourage and inspire other organizations and healthcare professionals to focus on cultural diversity,” says Charles Whitlock.
The conference presentations underscore the commitment of Pennswood Village’s staff and residents to embrace diversity, collaborate with outside organizations, extend the community’s mission beyond the campus and provide opportunities for growth and well-being of the mind, body and spirit.
“This is an excellent example of how we’re living our mission,” says Whitlock.