Posts Tagged ‘2012’

Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

In continued celebration of NJFA’s 15th Anniversary, we’d like to share with you a guest blog from a former grantee, The Camden City Garden Club, Inc.

The Camden City Garden Club, Inc. (CCGC) operates several programs, which provide Camden residents of all ages access to fresh, locally-grown healthy food.  The CCGC’s Community Gardening Program enables 1000s of Camden families to grow their own food in community gardens, close to residents’ homes and promotes fellowship among neighbors.  The Camden City Garden Club provides plants, seeds, fertilizers, fencing, supplies and tips to its members for a small membership fee.

Through the Community Gardening Program, the CCGC works with the community to fight hunger and obesity in Camden, NJ, which is the one of the poorest, most dangerous US cities and also one of the “Top 9 Food Deserts”, according to the USDA. In 2013, the CCGC celebrates 29 Years of the Community Gardening Program, which is “perhaps the fastest growing in the US,” according to University of Pennsylvania study.  Today, CCGC has created and supports over 120 community gardens, 100 family gardens, and 12 school gardens.  The CCGC is helping more than 12% of Camden residents to eat fresh food from these gardens, producing an estimated $2.3 million in fresh produce each year, according to the report by University of Pennsylvania.

CCGC PROGRAMS ARE ASSISTING NJ SENIORS

With support from foundations like the NJ Foundation for Aging(NJFA), the CCGC has increased community gardening with seniors at Camden senior residence facilities.  CCGC and NJFA have also established a Senior Citizen Advisory Council for the Garden Club to improve services to encourage seniors to garden.  The Council has been operating successfully with 10 members, who represent various communities in the City of Camden.  Council members serve as teachers, mentors and guides to advance community gardens in Camden, addressing the particular needs of senior citizens and their families.  They provide the CCGC with advice on the needs of seniors and serve as mentors for those wishing to start-up new gardens and improve their gardening methods.

The CCGC Community Gardening Program is multi-generational and multi-ethnic.  It has a way of bringing together people of different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and having them work together to grow food for themselves, their families and neighbors.   The study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden gardens were remarkable for the amount of surplus that they produced and their generosity in sharing it with their neighbors.  These programs are especially helpful to Camden’s elderly as they often to not have access to transportation, are on a fixed income and because growing fresh foods is so important to a healthy active lifestyle.

GARDENING AT SENIOR HOUSING & GROWING FELLOWSHIP

Since its founding, senior citizens have always been a cherished part of the Garden Club.  Many of the members were older people who were interested in gardening since the time they were young children.  Garden Club senior gardeners include African Americans who grew up on farms in the South, some from Mexico, Puerto Rico and others who remember gardening with their parents and grandparents on small backyard gardens. 

Through support from the NJFA, the CCGC has been able to expand their services for seniors.  The Club supports large gardens at Northgate I and Northgate II, senior housing developments that accommodate over 50 gardeners.  There are several other community gardens throughout the City of Camden which are led by and cultivated by the CCGC’s active gardening senior.  Some outstanding gardens have been attributed to senior gardeners:  Paul Williams has an extensive garden – both have been focal points of their neighborhoods and a source of a surplus of healthy food.   The CCGC has supported the extensive community garden called the “Men’s Garden” because of the large number of senior men who garden there, as well as, their utilizing the outdoor space as a meeting place. 

INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING & LEARNING

CCGC’s Community Gardening Program also offers opportunities for intergenerational learning.  Seniors have the opportunity to mentor the Camden teenagers who work as part of Youth Employment and Job Training Program,.  In addition, CCGC hosts AmeriCorps volunteers, young people who are part of the program CCGC hosts who come to volunteer in Camden, help seniors with some of their gardening work in return for learning from them about gardening, food and life.  Hundreds of Camden school children participate annually in the CCGC’s GrowLab Program.  Many of these children have community gardens in their neighborhoods at home, so they often teach their families and neighbors what they learned in school.  The seniors enjoy working and teaching the children what they know about gardening and preparing healthy meals also! 

SUPPLEMENTATION DELIVERED

To help supplement the food grown in the community gardens, the CCGC also operates a successful mini farm stand at the Camden Children’s Garden, which sells produce to seniors to supplement what they are able to grow themselves, with items like seasonal apples, blueberries, peaches and corn.  The Fresh Mobile Market will sell quality fresh vegetables and fruit at low prices.  Some of the produce will be grown at the CCGC’s Urban Farm on 3rd and Beckett Streets in Camden, NJ.  CCGC Board member and supporter, Duffield’s Farm in Sewell, NJ, will also supply produce.  In addition, the newly launched Fresh Mobile Market Program will bring fresh foods even closer to the homes of elderly residents, with a special focus on senior housing.  This program was launched May 2013 at a senior living facility Mickle Towers, along with the Fresh Mobile Partners, including the NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ 5th Legislative District, Camden County Freeholders, City of Camden Mayor, City of Camden Council, Duffield’s Farm, Holman Ford Lincoln, Walmart Corporation, Whole Foods Markets.  Also, the CCGC’s “Camden Grows”, the USDA Entrepreneurial Gardening Program, will enable Camden Community Gardeners to make a profit by selling their surplus of crops to the Mobile Market Program. 

POPULATION SERVED

The target population for the NJFA grants were low income senior citizens.  Throughout the year, CCGC estimates that at least 1,400 senior citizens (20% of CCGC’s 7,000 gardeners have been served).  CCGC has exceeded their goals for Senior Community Gardening and will continue to work with seniors as an integral part of the garden program. 

In conclusion, seniors are important leaders in the CCGC, providing inspiration and direction to gardeners of all ages throughout the city.  There is a great excitement about CCGC’s Community Gardening Program in Camden and senior citizens are an important reason for that.

To learn more about the Camden City Garden Club go to http://camdenchildrensgarden.org/about.html

 

 

Did you know? NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Did you know?

Did you know that NJFA is celebrating our 15th Anniversary this year! Yes, NJFA was incorporated in 1998. It’s got us thinking, “what have we accomplished in all that time?” Well, the answer is, quite a lot. And we’d like to tell you about it.

When NJFA was established in 1998 it was formed with a mission to promote innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity through grant making to address unmet needs and through increasing society’s awareness to influence public policy. NJFA still seeks to hold true to that mission today, 15 years later.

Here’s how we’ve been doing so far:

NJFA has provided 44 grants to programs serving NJ Seniors.

Those 44 grants total $380,000 given to programs that serve more than 25,000 seniors across NJ.

NJFA provides public awareness through, Renaissance Magazine with 100,000 readers and Aging Insights, a public access TV program with 400,000 viewers, now on NJFA’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/njfoundationforaging

Public Policy- NJFA’s 2012 NJ Elder Economic Index Update Project is a continuation of Policy Work that began in 2009 with the first Elder Index report. The 2012 report adds demographic information to the cost of living report. Data is available in for all 21 Counties.

NJFA also continues to make transportation a priority, following the policy report, “Safe Mobility at Any Age” in 2005, we continue to work with partners like the Voorhees Transportation Center, Motor Vehicle Commission and AAA Automobile Club.

Professional Development-  15th Annual Professional Conference, June 12, 2013 Conference, Jamesburg, NJ. A day-long conference for professionals in  the aging network. Over 200 attendees will hear Nationally recognized key note speakers and be a able to chose from sessions on evidence based best practices and new initiatives for seniors and caregivers in NJ.

So you see, NJFA has really done a lot in 15 years and we hope to continue being a leading force in promoting “Aging Well” in NJ. Visit us at www.njfoundationforaing.org to learn more.

How can you help? When you visit our website, click on the donate here page to make a donation online or print out a donation form and mail it to us at 176 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08608.

Have questions or want more info? Call us at 609-421-0206 or email us at [email protected], we‚Äôd be glad to tell you all about our work!

After all, none of NJFA’s work would be possible without the support of our donors, partners, funders and of course our Board of Trustees and Senior Executive Council members!

 

 

NJFA takes part in Retirement Gathering for a Founding Trustee

Friday, January 18th, 2013

 NJFA takes part in Retirement Gathering for a Founding Trustee

Trenton—The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) participated in the retirement gathering on January 2, 2013 for one of NFJA’s founding Trustees, Margaret Chester. Peg has served as a regional director for Green Thumb (a senior employment program),  a board member of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Department Director of the Middlesex Co Dept of Aging and most recently, Director of Middlesex County, Department of Human Services.

Peg extended the gift of her leadership to the founding trustees of the NJ Foundation for Aging in 1998. She has provided strategic guidance to the daily operations of the Foundation and its growth over the last 15 years. She is truly a dynamic and committed leader.

During the evening, which was hosted at Francis E. Parker in Piscataway, Peg was presented with a a Middlesex County Resolution for the Board of Chosen Freeholders which was presented by Freeholder, Blanquita Valenti. Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan also presented Peg with a resolution from the Assembly. In addition to these two individuals who had kind words to say about Peg, Grace Egan from the NJFA and Peg’s brother Tom also offered remarks acknowledging the hard work and dedication Peg has put into her career.

NJFA greatly appreciates Peg incorporating the Foundation into this special event. And wish Peg  wonderful adventures going forward.

  To learn more about the work of the Foundation visit www.njfoundationforaging.org or call 609-421-0206. The New Jersey Foundation for Aging was established in 1998.  Its mission is to expand innovative approaches in the delivery of services that enable older adults to live in the community with independence and dignity.

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Go Direct

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Go Direct

NJFA has done a number of blogs about Go Direct, a campaign alerting those who receive Federal Benefits (such as Social Security) that they must sign up for Direct Deposit for those benefits by March 1, 2013 as US Treasury will no longer issue paper checks after that date.

There are two options, direct deposit into your bank account or you may chose to receive your benefits on a pre-paid debit card. You can learn more at www.ssa.gov/deposit/

Today, we want to tell you that in this age of technology, scammers are finding more ways to target seniors. The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they have been receiving reports from identity theft victims that their monthly Social Security benefits had been sent to a different bank account or pre-paid debt card, without their knowledge or permission.

SSA and the Office of the Inspector General continue to investigate and track these cases. The incidents are related to widespread schemes, the same kind of fraudulent phone calls or emails targeting seniors that have been going on for years. Now, the scammers are using this personal information to re-direct direct deposit of Social Security benefits.

David Vinokurov of the Social Security Administration states, “to protect your identity, be wary of any calls or emails from people asking for personal information.” No legitimate company will make an unsolicited call asking for personal information like your Social Security number (SSN) or bank account. Mr. Vinokurov adds, “The Social Security Administration will never ask for your SSN, we have it.”

The SSA does not want anyone to fear signing up for Direct Deposit, they know it is a safe and convenient way for people to receive benefits. Unfortunately, scammers will always find a way to take advantage, so the best thing you can do is to closely guard your personal information. If you receive a call or email asking you for your bank account number, Social Security Number or other personal information, do not give it out. “Always pay attention to your bank statements and your credit reports” warns Mr. Vinokurov. You can receive a free credit report once a year, visit www.annualcreditreport.com to learn more.

Another safeguard through the SSA is that you can tell them that no changes may be made to your account unless you appear in person with ID, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/blockaccess

If you fear that your benefits may have been changed due to identity theft contact SSA immediately. For example, if you have not received your benefits and it is 3 to 4 days past your scheduled payment or if you receive a letter confirming a change to your direct deposit however you did not authorize this change, you should report the problem immediately to SSA.

To learn more about this type of fraud and how to report it, visit http://oig.ssa.gov/report-fraud-waste-or-abuse

 

 

 

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The Affects of Sandy for Seniors

NJFA has partnered with NCOA on a few occasions to share a common message or service. NCOA’s One Away campaign has been something that NJFA has tweeted or facebooked about because we understand that many seniors (and many families) are one illness, one accident, on job loss away from a financial crisis. Now, as it turns out, they were just one hurricane away from financial disaster.

Before Sandy hit New Jersey, we knew there seniors who were living solely on Social Security. Many of them wondering by the end of the month how they’d make do until their next check. Sometimes, making a choice between food or medication or heat. NJFA has been aware of and worked on advocacy efforts for these seniors who are living on the edge of poverty.

NJFA’s 2012 Elder Index Update report shows that more than 25% of NJ seniors have difficulty closing the gap. We know that basic expenses in NJ for a single elder, in a one bedroom apartment are $27,960 a year. To read more of this report visit, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/NJElderEconomicIndex2012.pdf

Certainly, seniors were among those affected by “Super-Storm” Sandy. Being displaced from their home, losing their belongings, are all things that may have pushed those living on the edge, over it. Those seniors may now be faced with not only how to stretch their dollars, but where to find dollars to replace their belongings or their home.

As we continue to hear stories about the people dealing with the recovery from the storm, we will see people like, Robert Ford, a disabled Vietnam veteran, whose family’s story of trying to save his home and keep him in it, was featured in the Asbury Park Press on Dec. 3rd. http://www.app.com/viewart/20121202/NJNEWS/312020047/Sandy-Highlands-veterans

In the article, you can read about how the family is struggling to find ways and money to rebuild the home and get Mr. Ford back where he wants to be. But it is not so easy for people that were barely making ends meet before the storm.

There are probably also many New Jersey seniors, who like Elaine of Maryland, who was featured in a video about senior hunger put out by the National Council on Aging, had her home flooded and wonders now how she’ll pay for the damage as well as continue to buy food, medication and pay for her heat. http://www.ncoa.org/get-involved/this-holiday-season-give-a.html

To find out about public supports and other programs that might help seniors in need contact your County Office on Aging, http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html