Richard Ruelas: The Greater Phoenix area has been named one of the best intergenerational regions in the country. MetLife Foundation and Generations United announced the Maricopa region will receive one of four best intergenerational communities awards on March 25th in Washington, D.C. Here to talk about that is Maricopa Association of Governments is human services director Amy St. Peter, and Jacky Alling, senior program officer at the Arizona Community Foundation. Let's first define what an intergenerational community is and what a best one is.
Amy St. Peter: We're very excited about that. Simply put, it's all people all together. It's accomplished by looking strategically at the infrastructure and the programming and really allowing opportunities for older adults and youth to be able to come together in really meaningful ways and impact both of them positively.
Richard Ruelas: What's a building where this goes on?
Jacky Alling: I'd be happy to talk about that. At the Arizona Community Foundation we have an affordable housing program which jump-starts and provides predevelopment zero interest loans to non-profit developers to do affordable and supportive housing. A recent project we were able to give one of these loans to was to the foundation for senior living. It's called Twenty-nine Palms and it integrates services and housing for seniors and young adults with autism. So there will be opportunities for them to be resources and assets to one another, and have special services that will help both populations, as well.
Richard Ruelas: And I guess flip it, has there been a model -- did areas just try to put seniors in this one apartment building?
Jacky Alling: Well, we're the original home of the first segregated retirement community. I won't name any names, but it's pretty notorious as being the first one in the country. There are benefits to that and also social disadvantages.
Richard Ruelas: Right, because those seniors in -- let's say Sun City Leisure World, are there by choice. But some would rather live among everybody. What are the benefits for seniors living among a younger population?
Amy St. Peter: People feel as though they have value and add value. When people have opportunities to volunteer to assist others, they feel much better about themselves. Sometimes if someone is always just receiving services, they don't necessarily have a good self-esteem because they aren't imparting value to others, they aren't able to share their skills and benefits. While allowing for that reciprocity it's really important because it builds on both sides of that equation.
Richard Ruelas: Is it a situation where if we don't try to engage this and let it happen naturally in the market, those who want to be integrated do end up segregated anyway?
Jacky Alling: Well, I'll speak from the funding side because the Arizona Community Foundation is a philanthropy and we give grants to nonprofits and agencies. Funding often tends to be very age siloed. It's the natural course of things.
Richard Ruelas: Like building a subsidized housing unit, it's going to end up being --
Jacky Alling: Exactly, even in terms of federal funding there have been challenges with siloing populations. So we do think that if you think about community development and programs being good to grow up with and good to grow old with, it's pretty simple.
Richard Ruelas: So what did we say in the application? What did we point to? You mentioned the one development. What did we point to as far as what we do well?
Amy St. Peter: Exactly. First the leadership of the mayor who helped us submit the application. We're very thankful to him for his leadership on that. The application was fairly long and expensive but the outpouring of support from the community was just absolutely wonderful. We received letters of support from older adult volunteers, teens in high schools who have been able to work with them. Nonprofit agencies doing really cutting edge work. In that sense it's very easy to submit the application, because we had so much support on it. We were able to point to the number of intergenerational centers, volunteer opportunities and decades of history in this, with doing excellent programming in intergenerational work. And some really cutting edge programs such as through the age friendly network where we're working with communities in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and the northwest valley. They are bringing in models that have never existed before in this part of country.
Richard Ruelas: What was it that made us recognize this being of value years and years ago, to get us to the stage where we can apply for this?
Jacky Alling: For us, we got into this work because we looked at the demographics. The largest population in Arizona is youth under 18 and the second largest growing population in Arizona is 55-plus. If you think in terms of our future, it's sort of a no-brainer, the more we can integrate resources and not compete it just makes great community development sense.
Richard Ruelas: Integrated resources meaning a center not just for youth or elderly but a center where everyone can get together.
Playgrounds. Grandparents raising grandkids, are they accessible, public spaces, when you are offering program offer them for seniors of youth. At Golden Gate Community Center they have integrated those because the youth want to learn about traditional recipes. They want to have those interactions with older adults.
Richard Ruelas: What do we get? There's a ceremony in D.C.?
Amy St. Peter: There is.
Richard Ruelas: T-shirts? Medals?
Amy St. Peter: We will be getting a flag and we will fly it high as soon as we return. More importantly, we are being held up as a national model. It's wonderful to get that national recognition and press, and for people to be able to look to us for examples of what can work really well in this setting.
Richard Ruelas: Something we have been doing and haven't really doing it much.
Richard Ruelas: I said Maricopa County, I meant Maricopa Association of Governments. People probably make that mistake all the time.