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Thoughts from JCA’s new Board President

jca building and logo

by Ronna Borenstein-Levy, JCA BOARD PRESIDENT

Growing older is a blessing we should not take for granted. But what is it like to be “old” in America in the 21st century?

According to the National Council on Aging, more than 15 million adults over 65 are economically insecure, with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. In Maryland, almost 10 percent of seniors are financially disadvantaged.

However, you don’t need to be financially challenged to struggle as an older adult. Failing health, diminished cognition, and loneliness also take their toll. And for many retirees, a sense of purpose – a reason “to get up in the morning” – can be elusive.

While no one organization can be a panacea for all of these challenges, JCA has proven it can make a difference.  Founded by members of the Jewish community half a century ago, JCA serves older adults and their families in the greater Washington, DC region, inclusive of all faiths and backgrounds. Our vision is to help older adults thrive by maintaining dignity, vitality, and independence. To accomplish this, we provide numerous programs through our own direct services, our referral network, and regional partnerships.

This month I begin my term as the newly-elected president of JCA’s Board of Directors – a position I accept with both awe and excitement. JCA is blessed to have a strong Board with expertise in aging, finance, law, fundraising, and community service. Equally impressive are our dedicated staff members, who are responsible for the day-to-day management of numerous programs.

These include our Senior Help Line; the Kensington Clubs for those with early-stage dementia; numerous Transportation options; and the State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) that provides assistance with navigating Medicare.

Many older adults who want to re-enter the workforce find meaningful employment opportunities through JCA’s Career Gateway, while others discover connection by volunteering through our Heyman Interages Center.

Most of these programs are offered free or on a sliding-fee schedule, which is why philanthropy will continue to be essential to JCA’s success.

In the next 20 years, the number of residents age 65 and older in our region will grow significantly. In Montgomery County, alone, this age group is expected to double. The demand for senior services will increase accordingly.

Honoring the wisdom and contributions of the generations who came before us requires a lot more than just giving up our seats for them on the Metro. Kibud zekaynim, treating our elders with dignity and respect, is an important value for all of us and a true hallmark of an enlightened community.  JCA is proud to lead the way.