I am extremely grateful…It’s been a year working to support diverse family caregivers

Ocean (right) with Jenna McDavid at the Gerontological Society of America 2019 annual scientific meeting. (Photo courtesy of Jenna McDavid)

As I approach the end of my first full year working with the Diverse Elders Coalition, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had on both a personal and professional level. Working on the coalition’s caregiving initiative, “Addressing Unmet Family Caregiving Needs in Diverse Communities,” has been a very rewarding experience that will have a tremendous impact on my work as I move forward in my career.

My journey with the Diverse Elders Coalition began on January 7th, 2019. As the coalition’s newest Program Associate, my main focus has been on family caregiving. This initiative, a multi-year project to improve the multicultural capacities of service providers to support diverse family caregivers, allowed for opportunities to work with a multitude of project stakeholders including our funder, The John A. Hartford Foundation, as well as our research partner, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. I also got to know work closely with the six DEC member organizations: the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA), the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging (NCBA), the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA), SAGE, and the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center.

Having previously working with The John A. Hartford Foundation, I understood that these project stakeholders were key players in the field of aging and family caregiving; I was initially very intimidated in supporting them in our work together. However, as the year continued, I was welcomed with open arms, shattering my initial reservations. Particularly, I am grateful for the wonderful staff at SAGE in making me feel like a part of the team. Located in New York City, DEC staff regularly work out of the SAGE Midtown office.

It became apparent that our partnership to support diverse family caregivers united our team of project stakeholders. Throughout the 15-month process of developing the literature review, reviewing the caregiving survey questionnaire, crafting the focus group analysis, and, most recently, building the cultural competency training curriculum, our project stakeholders were extremely engaged, enthusiastic, and collaborative. Personally, I believe that the teamwork between The John A. Hartford Foundation, Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, and the six DEC member organizations was the main reason for our successes in the initial planning phase of the caregiving initiative. I am confident that our team of project stakeholders will continue to produce excellent work in the next two years of this project.

Coming into the Diverse Elders Coalition right after the ending of my schooling at Columbia University, I had no prior experience that was similar to my work experience at the Diverse Elders Coalition. I was very nervous, intimidated, anxious, and fearful in the first month of working at the DEC. However, through working on the caregiving initiative, attending conferences to promote our work, talking with diverse family caregivers, and working with project stakeholders, I was able to grow both on a personal and professional level. This experience has been very meaningful to me. I am in a position where I am able to give back and help improve the lives of diverse older adults and family caregivers that represented my family and me. This experience has had a tremendous impact on the person I am today.

As we move into year two of the caregiving initiative, I am very excited to be able to continue supporting family caregivers in our coalition’s communities, and I understand the profound influence that it will have on my life. In closing, I want to say thank you to the diverse family caregivers who contributed to the caregiving initiative in one way or another. Without your contributions, the caregiving initiative would not be where it is today. Thank you for entrusting us to share your stories, a responsibility that our team does not take lightly. Thank you for everything!

 

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Diverse Elders Coalition.