BY MIKE FESTA, STATE DIRECTOR, AARP MASSACHUSETTS
AARP Massachusetts State President Sandra Harris has convened a task force made up of state and municipal employees, academic institutions, a variety of non-profits and other organizations who share a common commitment to end loneliness and build community throughout Massachusetts. The task force’s mission is to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth feel connected to their community and enjoy a strong sense of social well-being. The taskforce works to achieve this mission by mobilizing local organizations, thought leaders and other partners to join forces and use its collective resources and ingenuity for maximum impact.
The task force’s priorities are to disseminate resources and information, strengthen community connections and develop resources and multigenerational programming. One of the means of which the task force is able to disseminate resources and information is through a monthly television series aired on community media called “CONNECT: Addressing Loneliness in Massachusetts.” More information about the television series is available at www.endlonelinessma.com/tv-series. Additionally, one of the ways the task force is able to strengthen community connections is through the use of outdoor spaces that are accessible, inclusive and interactive. An example of one of these outdoor spaces are the “Happy To Chat” Benches, which were done in collaboration with the AARP MA Age Friendly and Livable Communities programs that deploy benches in multiple neighborhoods in an effort to invite people to sit down and chat with fellow members of the community. Learn more about these outdoor spaces at www.endlonelinessma.com/connected-spaces. Additionally, the task force is prioritizing the development of resources for multigenerational programming to help people become more and remain digitally literate to combat the post-pandemic digital divide. Learn more at www.endlonelinessma.com/digital-divide.
On National Good Neighbor Day, September 28, the Massachusetts Task Force to End Loneliness and Build Community will be holding its annual summit. Taking place virtually, it will be from 10 a.m. -12 p.m. with the theme: Shift Happens – focused on looking beyond the pandemic to address social isolation and forge friendships across Massachusetts. The summit’s keynote speaker is Marc Freedman – Founder and Co-CEO of Encore.org, speaking on the importance of “embracing shift” as we move toward a co-generational approach to healthy aging and problem solving in the community. Learn more and register for the summit at www.endlonelinessma.com/summit.