A Special American Anniversary
May is national Older Americans Month which is an opportunity for the nation to recognize, thank, and celebrate the lives and contributions of the nation’s older adults. If you are senior, congratulations! Older Americans Month (formally Senior Citizens Month) has been celebrated since 1963 and each year features a theme that encourages us to cherish our older population. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Get into the Act,” to focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.
This year the celebrations are made all the more special as they coincide with another anniversary that has deep significance for older Americans. 2015 marks the 50th year anniversary of the Older Americans Act. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act into law in July 1965. Since that time, the Act has provided a nationwide aging services network and funding that helps older adults live with dignity in the communities of their choice for as long as possible. These services include home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, community-based assistance, preventive health services, elder abuse prevention, and much more. For more information about these services contact the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior Helpline (8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) at 1-80-252-8966.
Irish Government Show Commitment to the Diaspora
Chicago Irish Immigrant Support, as an organization that both serves the Irish diaspora and is funded largely by the Irish government, we are keenly aware of the interplay between the two. The Government of Ireland has long expressed a commitment to nurture its relationship with the people of Ireland who left her shores. This sentiment was reinforced with the introduction of the Emigrant Support Program in 2006 under the portfolio of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Irish Abroad Unit. The ESP provided a vehicle for the Irish Government to provide financial support organizations and initiatives overseas that worked with Irish emigrants and the wider Irish community. The ESP has a particular focus on frontline support programs that serve isolated or vulnerable populations. Over the years the program has expanded and now also includes funding opportunities for cultural, community and heritage projects, which foster a vibrant sense of Irish community and identity, as well as capital projects.
Between 2004 and 2014, the Emigrant Support Program assisted over 400 organizations in 26 countries with grants totaling over €114m. Grants ranged from small amounts for grass-roots groups, to major allocations awarded to voluntary and community organizations operating on a large scale. The Department of Foreign Affairs’ website lists the following as key objectives of the ESP.
· Celebrate, maintain and strengthen the links between Ireland and the Global Irish;
· Address the diverse and evolving needs of Irish emigrants, especially the elderly, disadvantaged and vulnerable;
· Facilitate access to statutory and voluntary services in their country of residence for Irish emigrants; · Foster a more vibrant sense of community and of Irish identity;
· Further the outcomes of the Global Irish Economic Forum; · Support business networks to connect Irish people to each other at home and abroad;
· Research and define the emerging needs of Irish communities abroad;
· Support development of new ways to communicate and connect with the increasingly diverse global Irish, including non-traditional diasporas;
· Improve awareness and understanding of the emigrant and diaspora experience.
Further to the ESP the Irish Government have reinforced its commitment to the Irish diaspora over the past year by appointing Jimmy Deenihan as the first ever Minister for the Diaspora last summer, and launching the Global Irish Initiative early this year which outlines the official policy goals of the Irish Government in relation to the Diaspora. Learn how the Government of Ireland hopes to connect with Irish communities overseas by visiting the Global Irish website at https://www.dfa.ie/global-irish/.
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