I would like to take an opportunity to introduce myself in my new role as Executive Director at the Association on Aging in New York. I recently joined the team here, after being a local Area Agency on Aging Director in rural northern New York. To say that the past few months have been a whirlwind is an understatement, and as we navigate a new landscape, I am blessed to be part of such an amazing, dedicated network.
The 59 Area Agencies on Aging, and the over 1,200 subcontracts for services provides health, safety, wellness, and support to hundreds of thousands of older New Yorkers and their families on a daily basis. These services were established over 4 decades ago, and are a trusted entity for a wide variety of programs that allow individuals to remain in their own homes, with dignity and autonomy. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York, this network instantly adapted their delivery model, and absorbed a 50% increase in demand for services. Additionally, as congregate sites, social adult day programs, and administrative offices closed, you and your contractors were nimble, and ensured services would continue. Individuals whom did not have access to food, prescriptions, transportation etc were served without interruption. Stories from across the state show the dedication and resilience of your staff, volunteers, and community members. Partnerships were leveraged, staff stayed late and came in early, and older residents were protected. Many of you participated in the animatronic pet project, as you acknowledged the impact of social isolation on the older population. People were protected from financial exploitation, as they had a trusted source of information to turn to. The phone calls to isolated individuals are the highlight of the day to many, and provide a vital health and safety check. These services continue to be paramount in ensuring the well-being of the individuals and families you serve.
In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt thank you, and admiration for your work and dedication for the residents of New York. Your stories and successes are the blueprint for states that are going to be facing an increase in infections over the next few months. It has been said many times, that crisis shows the best and worst of society. As always, our network continues to be an example of the best.