Partner Spotlight: Partners in Serving LGBTQ+ Older Adults

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Shanti’s LGBTQ+ Aging & Abilities Support Network (LAASN) helps LGBTQ+ older adults and adults with disabilities overcome social isolation and contribute to the community. “So many of our clients crave connection and seek safe, LGBTQ+ friendly environments where they can receive caring and compassionate support services,” says Joanne Kipnis, MSW, LAASN Program Director.

LAASN staff members provide clients with services including emotional support, social service coordination, advocacy, and appointment accompaniment. To enhance the well-being of our clients, LAASN is honored to partner with Curry Senior Center and Openhouse.

“Both organizations provide us with safe and thoughtful environments to access health and health education services, as well as ongoing social events and wellness programming,” Joanne explains. “These reduce isolation through social engagement and community building and offer critical knowledge and skill-building tools.”

Curry Senior Center provides holistic, inclusive programming to promote older adults’ wellness, dignity, and independence. Curry offers LAASN clients full access to its social and wellness programs. Wellness offerings include health education and chronic disease management activities, while social programs include ESL and citizenship classes, current event discussions, bingo, and groups that focus on LGBTQ+ experiences.

Openhouse offers housing, direct services, and social programs to LGBTQ+ older adults. It focuses on the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ older adults, offers safe spaces that encourage diverse perspectives, and recognizes the intersectionality of community members. All Openhouse programming is available to LAASN clients and includes wellness programs, community engagement activities, and coordination of social services such as housing support, home meal delivery, and transportation assistance. “No matter our situation, we all need connection and community,” says Sylvia Vargas, Openhouse’s Director of Community Engagement Programs.

The partnership between Curry, Openhouse, and Shanti is essential to our community. “There are many success stories I hear about this partnership. Participants feel loved, recognized, connected, and part of the community. I’m honored to be a part of that,” says Jamal Barone, Curry Senior Center’s LGBTQ+ Program Manager.

Sylvia further expresses San Francisco’s need for the partnership. “In a city with few organizations focusing specifically on the needs of LGBTQ+ older adults, it is crucial we build deeper and wider social safety nets for our community. One critical way of doing that is through partnerships. There is much work to be done and the only way to meet our growing needs is to work together.”

Creating spaces where LGBTQ+ older adults can participate in activities in an identity-affirming way is critical to our community’s health, wellness, and safety. “We are incredibly grateful for our partnerships with Curry Senior Center and Openhouse as they fill a vital role in reducing isolation among our clients,” says Joanne.

For more information on LAASN, please visit www.shanti.org/LAASN

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