SAGE Launches SAGEConnect to Combat Social Isolation for LGBT Elders

SAGE’s Friendly Visitor Program continues fighting social isolation among LGBT elders. This photo, from the 2019 Friendly Visitor picnic, reminds us of times when we were able to meet in person — even as we now “meet” over phone calls and virtual connections. (Photo courtesy of SAGE)

SAGE, the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT elders, has recently launched SAGEConnect, a program that matches LGBT elders with volunteer community members and allies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of our LGBT pioneers, the heightened need for social isolation has left them homebound with severely limited support networks. The one-to-one contact offered through SAGEConnect will help combat feelings of loneliness and disconnection during this unprecedented time of COVID-19, and ensure that elders are linked to resources if they are in need of help. ­

Because of the limited resources available to LGBT elders during this time, SAGE is utilizing its connection to the greater community to offer help and support where it is needed most. Matching volunteers with members of the SAGE community will not only provide companionship during a time of isolation, but the program will also serve as an opportunity for folks to tap into the numerous resources SAGE is continuing to offer LGBT elders. SAGE’s network of eager volunteers is especially pivotal for those dealing with obstacles due to COVID-19, whether those challenges manifest physically, emotionally, or mentally. Through SAGEConnect, volunteers not only offer a social connection, but can also direct LGBT elders to other resources, like SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Hotline, its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging or local SAGE affiliates.

“LGBT older Americans are quite literally at the epicenter of this pandemic, which is why it is so important for us to offer a program like SAGEConnect that gives them an opportunity to stay engaged with the broader community and get the resources they need,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Our LGBT community has stepped up to care for and support one another in times of crisis before. And we must do that once again – our community and allies need to once again exhibit the fierce leadership that our LGBT pioneers have showed us for years.”

SAGE’s commitment to LGBT elders continues to have profound impact on members of the community. As Julia, SAGE member stated, “you’re letting people know that they’re not invisible. That someone does care about you in the middle of this crazy crisis really makes me feel a heck of a lot better.” For Julia, and many others, SAGE is counting on SAGEConnect as a tool to strengthen community bonds and remind folks that LGBT elders refuse to be invisible, even during times of crisis. Those interested in participating can sign up on SAGE’s website at sageusa.org/sageconnect. The site was built with the invaluable support of volunteers from Out in Tech’s Digital Corps impact program.

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SAGE is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.

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