In a move to enhance the lives of older adults in the Greater MetroWest area, the Grotta Fund for Senior Care is offering four planning grants to help communities provide more services and activities for their oldest residents.
Once grant proposals are submitted by their Nov. 16 deadline, Grotta, a community advisory fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ, will study them and award $35,000 to each of the four municipal governments or community groups selected.
Recipients will be notified by the end of December, giving them between Jan. 1 and June 30 of 2016 to draw up their plans, which must take into consideration the needs of seniors over the next three years.
A second round of grants of $75,000 apiece will be awarded to implement the winning ideas.
“Towns and communities must collaborate on a plan,” said Grotta Fund director Renie Carniol. “Each needs to have a lead agency, whether a municipal government or nonprofit organization, as well as other civic representatives or private businesses.”
To Carniol, the need for planning to include seniors in community programs and services is increasingly critical.
“New Jersey has more senior citizens than 41 other states,” she told NJ Jewish News as she sat in her office on the Aidekman campus in Whippany.
“As of the 2010 census, these older adults made up some 16 percent of the population but by 2040 they will be 26 percent of the population. If our towns and communities don’t recognize the increasing number of older adults and plan for these older adults with thoughtful collaborative planning, New Jersey will not be a great place to grow old,” she said.
Carniol is asking mayors to make their towns “more age-friendly” by collaborating with health-care organizations, city planners, civic and religious organizations, and private businesses.
Her idea is to “make communities safer, healthier, and more walkable; provide access to affordable housing; support transportation options for non-drivers; enhance access to paid work and volunteer opportunities; improve coordination of health and social services and awareness of resources for older adults; expand access to fresh food; and provide opportunities for social interactions, including intergenerational programs.”
While members of all ethnic groups are eligible for grants, Carniol sees a very Jewish component to the concept she is promoting.
“From a Jewish community and a Jewish Community Foundation perspective, what we try to do is build communities,” she said. “If communities are strong and people feel they have collaborative relations, not only is it good for all residents but it is really good for the Jewish community.”
Municipal governments and community groups wishing to apply for planning grants should consult grottafund.org/seeking-a-grant.