Hilary Meyer is the director of the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. Led by SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders), the Resource Center is the first and only technical assistance resource aimed at improving the quality of services and supports offered to LGBT older adults. Established in 2010 through a federal grant, the Resource Center operates on a national level, although it is based in New York. Hilary, 35, has degrees in psychology and law, and has a background in labor and employment law. Rainbow Gray interviewed her (via email) about the resource center.
Rainbow Gray: What is the mission of the Resource Center?
Hilary Meyer: Our mission is to improve the quality and number of services and supports available to LGBT older adults.
RG: What drew you to accept the position as director?
HM: Aging is a key issue for millions of LGBT people across the country. There is so much work to be done to improve services now, and to set the stage for a culture change across aging service provider industries, that there are always interesting challenges.
RG: The Resource Center was established in 2010 as the result of a historic $900,000 grant from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services. Was that a breakthrough in terms of the federal government’s recognition of the rights and needs of the country’s older LBGT population?
HM: That the Department of Health and Human Services, through the Administration on Aging, offered funding for a dedicated LGBT project is a huge step forward for recognition that LGBT older adults have unique needs, akin to other minority aging populations.
RG: While many of SAGE’s activities are focused on public policy issues, how does the Resource Center meet the everyday needs of older LBGT adults nationwide?
HM: SAGE’s National Resource Center on LGBT Aging provides relevant information through our website (www.lgbtagingcenter.org), technical assistance by phone and email to any LGBT older adult, caregiver, and/or service provider, and trainings on LGBT cultural competency to service providers who will be serving LGBT older adults every day.
RG: What is the biggest challenge—besides funding—to maintain and operate the Resource Center?
HM: Finding ways to reach all the people and providers that are in need of services or are interested in training is the biggest challenge with limited resources.
RG: Can you give us an example of how the Resource Center has made a difference in the life of an older LGBT adult?
HM: One provider, a programs director at a senior center, attended a Resource Center training and then posted her Certificate of Attendance in her office. That week, she reported that two different seniors that she had been working with for a number of months, upon seeing the certificate and understanding that they were now in a welcoming environment, came out to her.
RG: As director, what kind of impact do you hope to have at the Resource Center and in the lives of older LBGT adults?
HM: The Resource Center is made up of staff, sister organization partners and many volunteers who are all incredibly dedicated to impacting the lives of older adults who are seeking our assistance and information directly, as well as training providers who then have the tools to create safe and inclusive services.
RG: What can people do to help the Resource Center maintain its funding?
HM: The best way that people could help us continue to bring provide these trainings and technical assistance is to make individual donations through our website (www.lgbtagingcenter.org) or by calling SAGE (212-741-2247).
RG: What is your proudest accomplishment?
HM: When our trainers had reached the 2,000 providers trained mark, that was a very exciting moment for us at the Resource Center.
RG: Do you have a message to share with the older LBGT community?
HM: The LGBT movement has so many of our community’s older adults to thank for the incredible strides in advocacy and acceptance. We stand on the shoulders of true leaders, be they recognized publicly or not. Every day, our work is influenced by all of those older adults who paved the way before us.
–interview conducted by Stephen Dolainski0 Posted on July 22, 2013 by Stephen Dolainski · 0 comments