AARP Age-Friendly Grant Collaboration Continues

Local Albion area organizations continue work towards AARP Age-Friendly Community
status for the city.

Representatives of over 20 local organizations met in early March to work on identifying
strategies to help the community gain the prestigious nationwide AARP designation. The
impetus for the collaboration is through a grant to the Albion Community Foundation from the
Calhoun County Senior Millage Allocations Committee to work to obtain the prestigious
community recognition.

This grant effort provides a catalyst to educate the community about what changes can be
implemented to make Albion more livable for all ages, especially seniors. Marcia Starkey and
Linda Kolmodin are community coordinators for this Foundation grant.
In order to achieve AARP Age-Friendly Community designation organizations must
commit to a collaborative effort to assess community seniors and work on solutions to improve
those identified needs. To help solve some of the most pressing needs these organizations and
groups will work with other organizations to identify what programs are already in place and
what programs could be cooperatively developed. The organizations first met in December to
begin the process of being AARP designated in addition to meeting via Zoom in small domain

Several of the AARP identified eight domains have been combined to allow better
collaboration to address identified concerns in the community. The areas to be addressed include
Outdoor Spaces and Buildings; Housing, Social Participation/Respect/Social Inclusion and
Communication; Work/Economic Development and Civic Engagement; and Community and
Health Services. All of the subcommittee groups will work together on transportation because
this logistical issue overlaps all the domains.
According to the grant coordinators, “Well-designed, age-friendly communities foster
economic growth and make for happier, healthier senior residents. It also benefits the entire
community through the adoption of policies and programs as a result of networking and
cooperation between elected officials, partner organizations and local leaders.”
Input from seniors is important to the success of this grant. A senior-focused survey will
be available this spring both online and in paper version. In addition the coordinators will
conduct both virtual and in-person Community Conversations of area seniors.
According to the grant, AARP designation as an Age-Friendly Community gives
credence to the value Albion places on its senior residents. This well-respected organization
provides shared expertise, technical assistance and materials to help create a network of
communities to develop hands-on and locally determined and directed programs to assist seniors.
AARP states that communities around the world are seeking to grow in an age-friendly
manner. Launched in 2012 the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities is an
affiliate of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Network for Age-Friendly Cities and
Communities. This WHO affiliate was established in 2006 to help prepare for the world’s
growing population of older adults.

State Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human
Services (MDHHS) have approved and submitted Michigan’s Age-Friendly Action Plan to
AARP. This plan was the culmination of more than a year of collaboration with AARP and
MDHHS’s Behavioral and Physical Health and Aging Services Administration to craft a
comprehensive strategy to help Michigan’s older residents live well and safely in their

The plan follows Michigan’s designation in October 2019 as an AARP Age-Friendly
State, the first step in a multi-year process to make Michigan more livable for people of every
age. Michigan was the first state in the Midwest to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly
States and Communities. So far, eight municipalities in Michigan – Auburn Hills, East Lansing,
Grand Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, Novi, Royal Oak and Southfield – have joined the Age-
Friendly community network. Albion is among the latest to be approved by AARP to implement
a plan to achieve this status.

PHOTO CAPTION: Representatives of local organizations gathered this month to continue
collaboration towards earning AARP Age-Friendly Community designation for Albion.

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