Westchester Named Among Top Age Friendly Communities
White Plains, NY - Praising the county’s “innovative approach” to tackling issues that affect seniors, AARP named Westchester as one of the nation’s first seven “Age-Friendly Communities” during the Golden Harvest Breakfast October 4, 2012 at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown.AARP vice president Bob Stephen presented the designation to Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino, citing the county’s multiyear efforts to champion seniors in areas that range from safe and affordable transportation to the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
“This is a proud day for Westchester County,” Astorino said. “And thanks to AARP’s affiliation with the World Health Organization, we’ll now have access to a wealth of planning tools and resources – which will help us serve our seniors even better.”
Astorino said the award is the direct result of the success of Westchester’s trailblazing, multiyear Livable Communities initiative, which is spearheaded by Commissioner Mae Carpenter of the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services.
“Today’s honor is a reflection of her leadership and lifelong advocacy on behalf of seniors,” Astorino said. “It’s important to be in the forefront of this important issue, and today’s recognition gives us even more momentum to continue our hard work.”
The award-winning Livable Communities initiative aims to improve the quality of life for people of all ages and enable seniors to continue to live in their homes as they age with dignity, independence and civic involvement.
The county developed the initiative with the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and AARP.
Carpenter said it is gratifying to receive awards that honor the dedication of the entire team of people and agencies in the county that serve the elderly.
“The commitment of the Westchester Aging Network, including our providers and senior leaders, and particularly the unparalleled work of the staff of the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services, are what made this happen,” she said.
Westchester County received a second honor from AARP Thursday when the organization presented Samir “Sam” Eskander, of Scarsdale, with the association’s Andrus Award, its highest award for community service, which is named after AARP’s founder, Ethel Percy Andrus.
Eskander began to volunteer with AARP’s Driver Safety Program in 2006, rose quickly through the ranks and this year became a deputy state coordinator – one of eight in New York.
The Golden Harvest Awards are presented each year by the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services. The Partnership is a coalition of government, business and voluntary service agencies that develops resources and services to help seniors remain independent and active members of the community.
Rosa Kittrell Barksdale, a Mount Vernon resident and president and chief executive officer of Barksdale Home Care Services Corp., received the Golden Harvest Humanitarian Award.
Barksdale Home Care is a licensed home care agency that is based in Pelham, and employs registered nurses and companions as well as home health and personal care aides. It is one of Westchester’s largest minority employers and one of the largest agencies of its kind in Westchester that is owned and operated by a woman.
Rosa Barksdale has a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle. Her career path has taken her to positions as a nurse, drug abuse counselor and health teacher for the New York City Board of Education and as a sales representative for Abbott Laboratories. She has received many honors for her business and community leadership, including the Westchester Community Opportunity Program Corporate Achievement Award, the Women in Business Award from the White Plains YWCA and the Westchester County Business Person of the Year citation from the African-American Chamber of Commerce.
William T. Smith, of Bedford Corners, president and chief executive officer of Aging in America, received the Golden Harvest Distinguished Service Award. Aging in America is the parent corporation of several nonprofit, nonsectarian agencies, which provide services to seniors and their families in the Westchester region such as Morningside at Home in the Bronx.
Smith, Ph.D., has been in the social work field since 1971, and his last 35 years have been dedicated to gerontology. He is chair of the board of Dominican Sisters Family Health Services, an assistant professor of public health administration at Pace University and an adjunct professor in the School of Social Services at Fordham University.
He is a former executive director and chief executive officer of the St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry and past chair of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.
The Collaborative for Palliative Care received the Golden Harvest Corporate Award. The collaborative is a nonprofit, community-based organization that works to improve care of seriously ill people through education, research and advocacy in palliative and end-of-life care.
Mary Beth Morrissey, of White Plains, the founder and president of the collaborative, accepted the award. She is recognized nationally as a health care attorney and social science researcher. She is affiliated with Fordham University, and focuses her practice on areas of health law, social work and ethics.
Morrissey’s law degree and Ph.D. are from Fordham and her Master’s of Public Health degree is from the New York Medical College School of Public Health. She lectures and writes frequently on mental health policy and public health law. She was lead editor of the spring issue of the N.Y. State Bar Association’s Health Law Journal.
Robert Waldman, of Larchmont, a co-founder of The Center for Aging in Place, received the Golden Harvest Jim Curran Leadership Award. The center is part of a national movement to enable seniors to remain in their homes as they age by making social support, health care and home maintenance services available.
Westchester County’s Livable Communities initiative has the same goal. However, the county program is publicly funded whereas the Center for Aging in Place programs are funded by its members.
Prior to his retirement, Waldman held management positions in actuarial science and information technology with Insurance Services Office and General Reinsurance Corp. He is a former board member of the Volunteer Center of United Way and a past chair of its RSVP (formerly the center’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program) Advisory Committee. He graduated from Columbia University and Pace’s Lubin School of Business.
Rita C. Mabli, president and chief executive officer of United Hebrew of New Rochelle, is chair of the Public/Private Partnership.