The mission of Advocates for the Aging of Frederick County (Maryland) is to be a public voice for the needs of low-income and frail seniors, and to facilitate and support partnerships and collaboration between government, for-profit and non-profit organizations to meet those needs.
Advocates for Aging of Frederick County (Maryland) was founded in 2014 by local residents who recognized a need for greater public advocacy on behalf of the county’s low-income elderly citizens.
A move by the Board of County Commissioners in 2012 to close Montevue Assisted Living, Frederick County’s long-time publicly owned and subsidized assisted living facility, created a citizen-based effort to both stop that closure and to create a database of information about those seniors most in need of Montevue’s services. The resulting investigation told a larger story: the overall needs of these seniors was larger and broader than just subsidized supportive housing, and no one voice was charged with speaking on their behalf. AAFC was founded to do just that.
Today, our primary role is to speak out on behalf of seniors and caregivers for the resources and programs needed in health and home services, adult daycare, respite services, and any other issues affecting seniors in our county. Through collaborative projects with government and community organizations, we work to raise awareness of needs, and then help implement policy, program and service solutions– large or small – to solve the problems faced by seniors and their families.
- In 2014, AAFC leaders were included in newly elected County Executive Jan Gardner’s citizen-review team identifying critical needs in senior services.
- As a follow-up to that work, Executive Gardner named members of the Advocates board of directors to her Seniors First Committee in 2015. The committee produced the Seniors First Report, which outlined recommendations for redefining the county’s senior services, in October of 2016.
- In 2018, AAFC created a scholarship program supporting practitioners throughout the entire Frederick Health system interested in improving geriatric care by attending the annual Johns Hopkins Geriatric Seminar. Attendees agree to share what they’ve learned with colleagues through professional seminars and training opportunities.
- AAFC has represented the needs of seniors through participation in the county’s Local Health Improvement Plan process since 2014 and the development of the Community Health Needs Assessment conducted every other year by the Frederick County Health Department and Frederick Health.
- Since its founding, Advocates has testified at public hearings in support of public policy initiatives, including a budget request for additional resources for the AERS (Adult Evaluation & Referral Services) program at the county health department in 2015.
- In 2017, Advocates began a partnership with the AERS program, providing funding for unfunded items needed by AERS clients in order to improve quality of life and to help them remain in their homes. A $4,000 grant from the Frederick County Elder Service Provider Council in 2017 provided critical support.
- In 2018, AAFC brought together representatives from an array of county agencies and organizations serving low-income seniors with representatives of the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick as they were relocating the residents of Catoctin View, one of the area’s largest subsidized senior housing buildings, in preparation for the building’s complete renovation. The meeting raised issues as to the needs of the seniors as they were moved into single-unit housing throughout the community.
- As an outgrowth of the meeting on housing needs, Advocates board members began to study the process of service coordination and navigation as a tool for improving senior health, reducing the need for emergency services, and extending the ability to age in place. In 2019, a collaborative team of Advocates, Frederick Health, and the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick was awarded a two-year grant of $175,000 from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission to fund a service/research project titled “Service Coordination Model for Low-Income Seniors in Single-Unit Housing.” Additional funding was provided by the Community Foundation of Frederick County, the Delaplaine Foundation, and the William E. Cross Foundation.
- Advocates presented information on senior needs and demographics for Frederick County’s innovative Livable Frederick Master Plan, which was adopted in 2019.
- In 2019, Edenton Retirement Community in Frederick celebrated its 30th anniversary with the production of a special calendar, showcasing residents and staff. All proceeds from sales of the calendar benefited Advocates.
- In September 2019 Advocates announced the creation of an endowment fund for the organization at the Community Foundation of Frederick County through a bequest of Donald L. Lewis. In recognition of Mr. Lewis’s support, the Advocates board of directors added his name to the AERS Fund, making it the Donald L. Lewis AERS Fund.
- As the Service Coordination Project was being implemented early in the 2020 COVID pandemic, collaboration with county EMS brought to light a glaring deficiency in the homes of low-income seniors: the lack of grab bars and assistive devices to lower fall risk and help seniors age in place. As a first step, that same year the Advocates Board voted to make resources available for purchase and installation of grab bars in the homes of more individuals through the Donald Lewis AERS Fund.
- In early 2021, Advocates was invited to submit a proposal to the CDC Foundation for a project benefiting seniors during the pandemic. We received a grant of $ 66,033.76 in May 2021, to implement a new Grab Bar Program, which made these devices available to both homeowners and renters. Frederick County EMS agreed to assist in identifying those in need. A grant of $45,000 from Frederick County government in May 2021 expanded the program to serve more seniors.
- In 2022, Advocates received a grant of $300,000 from Frederick County’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to continue and expand the Grab Bar Program to an Assistive Devices program over the next two years. Advocates also collaborated in Frederick Health’s successful requests for $1.1 million in ARPA funds to continue, expand, and sustain the Service Coordination for Low-Income Seniors in Single-Unit Housing, adding a medical component through Frederick Health’s new Supportive and Geriatric Services Program, and $125,000 for a feasibility study on county-wide senior needs and a possible PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly).