Monday, November 8, 2021 8:00 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (NOV. 8, 2021) – Groups of civic and business leaders joined leadership from VillagesOKC in two recent meetings to learn about the nonprofit’s positive impact on older adults in central Oklahoma and its plans for growth.
The meetings, held at the Petroleum Club North in Edmond and the Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club, featured remarks by board member Lance Robertson, who was formerly the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Assistant Secretary for Aging and the nation’s gerontologist for aging and disability issues.
Attendees included former Gov. Mary Fallin; former Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Salt and Light Leadership Training; retired Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, former Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs and state Rep. Marilyn Stark. Other attendees included law enforcement, publishing, influential members of the financial community and notables from the elder care community.
VillagesOKC connects adults ages 55+ in the Oklahoma City metro to valuable resources that empower them to remain independent and age gracefully. Following a nationally successful model, VillagesOKC consists of virtual neighborhoods of volunteers that share vital connections, education and programming with its members that heighten their quality of life. It’s service area extends from Guthrie to Norman and El Reno to Choctaw.
Robertson challenged those in attendance to dream big and make Oklahoma City the model for successful aging. He recounted testimony he gave at a Senate confirmation hearing and described three essential elements he thinks make up an environment which encourages successful aging: a foundational layer, a practical layer, and then an elevated communal spirit like the Oklahoma Standard.
“Here in Oklahoma, we have the tenants of a great community to age in,” Robertson said. “It's affordable and safe. There's a lot of different activity and community things that you can get engaged in. Those are the functional, foundational pieces that most communities have across America, better in some than others. Oklahoma City is headed in the right direction and making that foundational piece as successful as it needs to be.”
The practical layer he described as a heightened sense of connection and support. He said that is the role VillagesOKC can fill for greater Oklahoma City to become a model for successful aging.
“As a community, are you able to create mutual interconnectedness?” Robertson asked. “Are you able to live collaboratively? Are you able to deeply trust others when needed? Are you able to be that “darn good neighbor”? Those things matter. They matter to us individually, and then they matter to us collectively.”
Robertson continued, “I think the secret sauce is what we all know as the Oklahoma Standard. We're different here. Now, sadly, that term was coined out of hardship. It's still the Oklahoma Standard, and people know us nationally because of the crises we've endured and how we've unified. But the beauty is I think that special, communal, elevated spirit to aging successfully applies here. And a matter of fact, the beauty is I think it will come natural to us as a community because it's who we are.”
VillagesOKC provides several vital aging programs and plans to soon expand its offerings. Some current programs include: