Tuesday, March 25, 2014

City Hall

This morning I had an adventure in city government. Yesterday I was invited to attend the preliminary budget hearing for the Commission on Aging. You don't have to be invited to attend these hearings, of course, they are open to the public...but I received some email yesterday asking for attendees. I've never attended a City Council hearing so I thought, what the heck? And, of course, if we are alive, we are aging so that means me too.

City Hall is my kind of building. The current building is the 3rd City Hall building (the second City Hall had become Federal Hall during the Revolutionary War when New York was the first capital of the US.  It was constructed in 1810 - 1812. The winners of the architectural competition for the design of the Hall won $350! Both the interiors and exterior are designated New York City landmarks.

President-elect Lincoln was hosted in the Governor's Room in the Hall in 1861. His body lay in state in the rotunda here in 1865. President Grant also lay in state in the rotunda in 1885.

So what about that hearing? There were only a few members of the Committee on Aging present rather than the whole City Council (which is over 50 members.)  I did see Mayor Bill de Blasio arriving for work around 9:15-ish. (No, I'm not going to harass him for late arrival since he probably already attended at least one meeting before arrival.)

I learned a lot or, at least, a little about a lot. I heard a lot of acronyms. I missed the definition of some but NORC was bandied about at length. This one refers to Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. It might be a multi-unit housing facility or neighborhood that was not specifically built for the elderly but over time has accumulated a high population of aging people. Some of these NORCs have an agency to provide seniors with services.

Another hot topic was Elder Abuse which is on the rise and suspected to be highly underreported. I really hate to hear that this happens so much but apparently it does.

Senior centers often cater to immigrants with multiple languages, ethnic groups and religions. These centers as well as the Meals on Wheels program have a need to offer food familiar to various cultures as well as kosher and halal meals, for instance.

There was much talk about agencies being unable to provide some services because their mandate has strict limitations.

Many of these organizations need more money to provide more services and that's why they were speaking at the public portion of the meeting. There is a huge variety of agencies providing assistance.

If you know young people looking for career guidance, suggest a career in the field of services to the aging. It's going to be big through the baby boomer years and beyond. There was much talk about the need for social workers with a background in gerontology. The fields of healthcare and law also need practitioners with these backgrounds. And there will be more and more jobs in organizations providing services for the aging.

Morning temperature: 27 degrees
Morning steps: 11,004

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