“If you are breathing, then you have a purpose.”

    In honor of National Minority Health Month (April) and Mental Health Awareness Month (May), I sat down with artist and musician Carol James to talk about art, identity and aging.

    carolCarol discovered her passion for creative arts at the age of nine, and at 67 years old she continues to create and inspire others. She completed courses at the Art Institute of Chicago and received a fine arts degree from Columbia College. She currently facilitates the Creative Arts Healing Circle at Affinity Community Services, where she regularly volunteers her time and talent. Carol teaches a variety of painting.... Read More

                 

    New Peer Group for LGBTQ Women of Color 50+ at Affinity Community Services

    Affinity Community Services welcomes their newest peer led group: Midstreamers.

    Midstreamers is a new group at Affinity that addresses the unique needs of LGBTQ women of color 50 years of age and older. It is a welcomed addition to the current peer led groups: 40 plus, Trailblazers, Spectrum and Proud Parents.

    fb_img_1487176227883

    Midstreamers is an energetic group of women who represent a significant cohort of Affinity’s constituency. Most recently, the group enjoyed a theatre outing in January, attending “Blues for an Alabama Sky” at the Court Theatre in Chicago’s Hyde Park. The event was well attended by members and guests.

    This group meets.... Read More

                 

    Affinity Announces New Location and Upcoming Programming for Chicago Elders

    On September 14th, Affinity Community Services‘ Trailblazers Who Care hosted a FREE Medical Advocacy workshop facilitated by The Care Plan, at our new location located in the historic Bronzeville community on Chicago’s southside. This senior programming workshop discussed advocacy for yourself and or a loved one in a medical setting. The Care Plan facilitator, Jacqueline Boyd, provided information on senior wellness and securing the maximum service from your health-care providers. The workshop series began in May and has covered senior advocacy for caretakers and families alike. The Care Plan provides consultations for managing and mapping successful senior health and aging. Our constituents have found the services offered by The Care Plan to be compassionately helpful and timely in the.... Read More

                 

    St. Martin’s LGBTQ Elders Find Strength in Families of Choice

    In the Austin community on the Westside of Chicago, Father Chris Griffin serves a diverse congregation of elders, adults and youth at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. St. Martin’s is an open and affirming space offering a safe haven for LGBTQ people. In the shadow of the Orlando shooting, Father Chris speaks with me about the senior ministry team and the importance of embracing our elders and their families of choice during this emotional time.

    20160227_135122

    Q: How does St. Martin’s embrace the LGBTQ elder community?
    Fr. Chris: Our seniors play an important role within the various ministries of the church. Their wisdom.... Read More

                 

    LGBTQ Families of Choice Devastated By an Act of Terrorism

    This morning I woke to sadness and heartbreak, hoping still that the nightmare was not a reality. As I searched for morning traffic reports, all stations and channels were reporting updates on the weekend tragedy that rocked the nation and hit my LGBT community at the core. The Orlando shooting not only penetrated the hearts of so many families of origin, but even more families of choice.

    I heard a disturbing request by officials asking that only “family” contact their information hotline, as they are attempting to confirm identification of the victims. I was saddened to think that many families of choice may be the only family that confirms the identity of some victims. The reality is that our.... Read More

                 

    “On The Table” Offers Chicago’s LGBT Elders a Seat at the Table

    On the Table is an annual forum designed to increase conversations around civic engagement among residents and organizations.  This gathering fosters new relationships and creates a unified experience across the city and region.

    onthetable

    As thousands gathered in Chicago, I joined a group of great folks brought together by AARP to discuss the intersectionality of aging and LGBT identity. Our table of community members and organizational representatives openly shared the celebrations and challenges of aging as an LGBT person, some of which I discussed in a previous Diverse Elders Coalition blog. We also identified.... Read More

                 

    Reducing Stress Among LGBT Older Adults

    April is National Stress Awareness Month and there is no better time for seniors to relax and recoup! Our LGBT seniors may face daily stress regarding housing, healthcare, and finances. Thankfully, many can find comfort in community during regular interaction and engagement in programming provided by community organizations such as Affinity Community Services in Chicago, IL.  Affinity provides a safe and brave space for LGBT seniors participating in the monthly Trailblazers peer-led group.

    The LGBT communities face high levels of discrimination and prejudice for who they are and who they love, beginning in youth and continuing through later years in life. Compounded with the stress of aging – issues of health, fitness, mental health, caregiving, economic security, and.... Read More

                 

    Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus at Creating Change 2016

    The National LGBTQ Task Force held its annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago, IL this past week, and it was insightful and awesome. The conference offered several workshops to address the needs of diverse elders. I had the honor to co-facilitate the Queer People of Color (QPOC) Elders Caucus with Vega Subramaniam and Ben Guzman as we engaged in rich conversation with diverse elders across this country to explore the needs and perceived barriers to adequately service our LGBTQ seniors.

    cc16

    This quick glimpse into the genuine lives of our participants expanded our knowledge and helped us develop a brief list of concerns for.... Read More