Q&A with Linda Levin, ED of ElderSource
What sorts of services does ElderSource provide? Where? And for how long?
ElderSource is designated by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to be the Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Center for 7 counties in Northeast Florida. We've been in existence for 40 years. We fund programs and services to help elder adults live and age with independence and dignity in their home and community. We also have a one-stop shop Help Line that helps elders, persons with disabilities and their caregivers find resources in the community, access those resource and apply for benefits to assist them.
How has ElderSource been working with the LGBT community?
About three years ago ElderSource formed an LGBT Elders Task Force to help us increase awareness among the LGBT elder community about ElderSource and to increase community awareness about LGBT Elders as well as to help ElderSource understand the needs of LGBT elders so we can be more responsive. We've initiated LGBT Elder Sensitivity training for our own staff, our contracted providers and for others in the community. We also hosted to community events: a Gen Silent Screening and a PhotoVoice traveling exhibit document the stories of local LGBT elders and their challenges using digital photography and recorded interviews.
Why do you see working with the LGBT community to be important?
We know LGBT elders are particularly isolated, avoiding accessing and utilizing needed services out of fear of how they may be treated by straight peers and/or providers. They need to know that there are resources to assist them and to feel comfortable accessing them so they too can live and age with independence and dignity.
What advice do you have for other service providers who are interested in finding ways to work with the LGBT community?
The information is out there. Engage LGBT elders and allies in the community to help you. Focus on and stay true to your mission of helping elders, including LGBT elders. Keep an open mind, ask questions, learn. Be fearless.
Linda Levin received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Florida and her Masters Degree in Gerontology from NovaSoutheasternUniversity. Before coming to Jacksonville, she worked for the Area Agency on Aging in BrowardCounty and the Area Agency on Aging for Miami-DadeCounty as well as served as the Director of the Area Agency on Aging in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She has extensive experience working with elders in both urban and rural areas and in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic communities. Linda has been the Executive Director of the Area Agency on Aging for Northeast Florida since January 2004.