Project EngAGE, an Orange County Department on Aging program, is a peer-to-peer, older adult volunteer program whose mission is to recruit and train Orange County older adults to become community resource leaders, and to ultimately make their communities ideal places to age.
Through an innovative, experiential learning program, consisting of 13, five to six-hour weekly sessions, Project EngAGE focuses on relationship building between participants and with local leaders, visits to local organizations and agencies, and learning from guest speakers. Each session focuses on a different topic, ranging from aging in the community, wellness, mental health and aging, to emergency preparedness, community engagement and leadership skills.
Our program seeks to meet the growing needs of Orange County older adults by utilizing their skills and passions. To date, Project EngAGE has graduated 28 Senior Leaders through two classes, and is launching our third class in September! At the end of the 13-week training, our Senior Leaders not only understand the plethora of available community and governmental resources for older adults, but can also identify both the assets and needs in their individual communities, in order to advocate for solutions.
Our Leaders go on to serve as resource experts for other older adults and their families within their communities, and to create "Senior Resource Teams" that address resource gaps with their own unique projects. The Senior Resource Teams, with the technical and programmatic support of the Department on Aging, each focus on community-driven solutions to specific problems and resource gaps affecting Orange County older adults, including:
▪ Community Visiting Team: providing weekly visits and resource sharing to home-bound and isolated older adults
▪ Senior Falls Prevention and Health Promotion Team: planning and implementing primary falls prevention interventions to older adults
▪ End of Life Options Team: increase end-of-life planning behavior for seniors and advocating to maximize end-of-life choices
▪ Senior Rural Hunger Team: ensuring access to adequate nutrition for rural Orange County seniors
▪ Senior Transportation and Mobility Team: assuring advocacy, awareness, and education about mobility and transportation alternatives including driving for older adults
▪ Neighborhood Connections Team: fostering a vibrant and engaging quality of life for seniors living in community, by building trusted and reciprocal relationships through social engagement, education, practical support and assistance
▪ Faith-Based Outreach Team: serving as an outreach channel and resource to distribute older adult-related information, education, and opportunities to the faith-based community
To nominate a Senior Leader for Project EngAGE, or to learn more about this program and other volunteer opportunities, please contact me at 919-245-4241, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yvette Garcia Missri is the manager of the Orange County Department on Aging Volunteer Connect 55+ program. For more information about the Department on Aging, please visit or call the Seymour Center, 2551 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill, 919-968-2087; or the Central Orange Senior Center ,103 Meadowlands Drive in Hillsborough, 919-245-2015. Or go to www.orangecountync.gov/departments/aging.