ST. LOUIS – Envisioning a world in which all older adults can age with dignity and respect in their communities is a goal for SAGE Metro St. Louis, a nonprofit organization providing services and advocacy for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) older adults.

This vision is shared by the StL Village Exploratory Committee, explains SAGE Executive Director, Sherrill Wayland, “When I first heard of the StL Village Exploratory Committee, I immediately reached out and asked for SAGE to have a seat at the table.”

Wayland is excited for the work of StL Village Exploratory Committee, stating “Their commitment to aging in community and diversity, ALL diversity, sets a standard for the network of older adult service systems throughout the region.” SAGE staff serves on the Diversity Working Group in planning StL Village, which is scheduled to launch in 2014.

“We are very pleased to have SAGE involved in the planning and implementation of StL Village, and appreciate their input on effective outreach to the GLBT community” said Ron Smith and Gloria Gordon, co-chairs of the Diversity Working Group. StL Village will be the first village in St. Louis to join a nationwide Village-to-Village Network http://www.vtvnetwork.org.

The Village-to-Village Network began four years ago to support the national “village” movement, which responds to the fact that nearly 90% of Americans 50 and older would prefer to stay in their current home or community rather than move to an age-segregated facility. GLBT older adults share this preference, especially because many fear discrimination in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. In a 2010 survey, 89% of GLBT older adults responded that they expected long-term care staff to discriminate, 81% expected other residents to discriminate, and 77% expected that other residents would isolate them. By working with the StL Village Diversity Working Group, SAGE hopes to make the StL Village a safe and welcoming place for all older adults to live.

StL Village will be a not-for-profit, member-driven community network for people 50 and older to live in their own homes and neighborhoods, with access to activities and support services for safe and socially-connected aging. StL Village’s proposed borders are: City Limits (west of Skinker Blvd.), Clayton Ave., Vandeventer Ave., and Page Blvd. The footprint includes parts of six wards and these neighborhoods: Academy, Central West End, DeBaliviere Place, Fountain Park, Lewis Place, Skinker-Debaliviere, Vandeventer, Visitation Park, and West End.

The StL Village Diversity Working Group is currently seeking people of color and GLBT identified people to join their efforts. If you care about creating communities in St. Louis where all people can age with dignity and respect, we invite you to help build StL Village. You can get involved by providing input on the plans and structure, attending meetings, joining a Working Group, endorsing StL Village efforts, contributing skills, and attending community meetings. For the latest information on StL Village make plans to attend the May 29th Open House from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Bar Italia, located at 13 Maryland Plaza.

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