SAGE Celebrates the Grand Opening of The SAGE Center, the Country's First Full-Time Innovative Senior Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Elders
The SAGE Center will offer a comprehensive array of services for LGBT older adults living in New York City, and serve as a program model to support LGBT elders nationwide.
"Opening The SAGE Center has been a dream for LGBT older people for many years," said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE. "SAGE is thrilled to partner with New York City's Department for the Aging to create more innovative programs that address the changing needs of LGBT older people. Through this initiative, we are committed to building program models that can be replicated in New York City and nationwide."
SAGE is the country's oldest and largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults—with offices in New York City, Washington, DC, and Chicago, as well as a growing network of 21affiliates in 16 cities and towns around the country.
In addition to the robust array of programs that SAGE currently provides in New York City—at the LGBT Community Center and SAGE Harlem, The SAGE Center will offer hot meals, vibrant programming covering issues from health and wellness to workplace skills, comprehensive social services, a wide range of social activities, leadership opportunities for LGBT older people, and much more. In addition, SAGE will partner with community organizations in all five boroughs of New York City to serve LGBT older people who may not be able to access SAGE's current services.
"LGBT seniors often do not feel comfortable in a traditional senior center setting and this launch of a LGBT senior center is another important step in making New York accessible and more age-friendly for all New Yorkers," said DFTA Commissioner Barrios-Paoli. "We are grateful for the Mayor's support of the innovative senior centers and very excited to launch the first innovative senior center in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors. SAGE is a pioneer in addressing the needs of LGBT older New Yorkers, and I am confident that their robust programs will serve as a model for senior centers across the country."
The SAGE Center aims to address a number of disparities that face LGBT elders. Research shows that LGBT older adults have unique needs that are not often met by traditional aging services. Compared to their heterosexual peers, LGBT older adults are twice as likely to live alone; half as likely to have significant others; half as likely to have close relatives to call for help; and more than four times more likely to have no children. In addition, LGBT older adults face a host of other challenges, such as lack of access to culturally sensitive healthcare, heightened vulnerability to poverty, and unequal treatment under laws designed to protect older adults. However, despite a greater need for supportive social services, LGBT elders often do not access such services out of fear of harassment or hostility.
The SAGE Center is part of New York City's Innovative Senior Center (ISC) program, a new initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is giving 10 of the city's leading aging organizations the opportunity to better serve their elder communities with creative, needs-based programming that will create models for the "senior center of the future." The ISC program was developed through a partnership between the New York City Department for the Aging and the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc. (CSCS), a membership organization of the city's aging service agencies. The SAGE Center is one of two citywide innovative centers created to address the needs of historically underserved elder populations.
The SAGE Center is also the country's first full-time LGBT senior center offering meals and a broad range of programs and services on a citywide scale. As a precursor to this historic moment, the Golden Rainbow Senior Center of Palm Springs, California began offering programs and a welcoming space for LGBT older people in a one-room center in 2005. Today, this center is known as The LGBT Community Center of the Desert and has expanded its mission to include LGBT people of all ages.
The ISC contract from New York City represents another historic government funding breakthrough for SAGE and LGBT older people. In January 2010, SAGE—in partnership with 10 aging and LGBT organizations nationwide—received a historic grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration on Aging to establish the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, the country's first and only technical assistance resource center aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT older adults.
For more information on SAGE's programs and services, please visit sageusa.org.
Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competence training through SAGECare. With staff in New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago, SAGE coordinates a growing network of 30 SAGE affiliates in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Learn more at sageusa.org and lgbtagingcenter.org.