I was raised by my Grandmother. From birth through adolescence she was my sole caregiver – and my only mother figure. She fed me, dressed me, and brushed my hair. She corrected my behavior and taught me good manners. She was known in our North Minneapolis community as a person who sought justice in fair housing and healthy neighborhoods.
What she could not offer directly, she sought out support to help fill the gaps. I didn’t have everything that I wanted, but we had most of what we needed. Financially our means were limited, but somehow, she always managed to “make a dollar out of 15 cents.”
My Grandmother prayed for me often, which I believe kept me in God’s grace, even during times when I was indifferent to God and determined to do everything my way (which rarely got me very far, and usually amplified my burdens).
I tell you this for you to understand the very first love of my life was a senior named Marlys J. Kingsbury. She is the reason I stand before you today.
2018 marked the fifth year since my Grandmother’s passing from cancer at age 79. In her later years, I was responsible for seeing she had support services. Being inexperienced in navigating “the system” there were many situations that called for resilience beyond what I believed I was capable of, yet the grace of God brought me through, when despair could have easily consumed me.
When my Grandmother passed I thought of all I wish I had known about being an older adult in our society. I did the best I could.
I’ve always had an affinity for older adults, but with my grandmother’s passing, I’ve recognized that there are many seniors I can be a grand-child and friend to. It is a calling I will not deny.
Some statistics from Justice and Aging:
- By 2030 there will be 72 million seniors in America.
- By 2025 the number of food insecure seniors is projected to increase by 50%.
- By 2050 homelessness among seniors is projected to double.
Yet, Senior Centers and programs are being defunded and dismantled at a rapid pace.
We must stand up for seniors. If you are not yet a senior, I encourage you to open your heart to the value and wisdom of older adults. To be indifferent to the gifts elders possess is to be indifferent to your future self. If you are a senior, I thank you for your contributions and commitment to serve others.
Justice for aging adults means sufficient health care, being able to stay in their homes and communities, and having enough income to thrive. Justice means reducing isolation, despair, and depression. Justice is when everyone has the ability to live their golden years with dignity.
These things are deeply important to me and to the Magnet Senior Center at Westminster that I lead.
When the Downtown Skyway Senior Center closed, Westminster saw the need for a place for seniors to gather for growth, movement, creativity, and education. I prayed that God would place me in a position where my personal values aligned with the work to be done. I am grateful to be here and proud to belong to the Westminster family.
Westminster understands Justice Is: the love, care, and protection of seniors. Your pledges will help Westminster support a growing senior population that depends on us, just as we have depended on them so many times. I encourage you to give generously to the church, and through it, to the cause of justice.