A Los Angeles-based senior living community is working to help Americans in the low-income bracket by offering a few outside-the-box solutions in senior housing.
The program, the subject of a Fast Company article this week, is coined “EngAGE,” and is centered around a non-profit led by Tim Carpenter, which focuses on arts and wellness for its 6,000 residents across 30 different sites.
The model is slightly different, reports Fast Company, in that senior housing facilities actually pay EngAGE to offer their programming via those sites. Through those fees, along with grants and corporate sponsorships, the non-profit remains funded to offer its services.
Fast Company reports:
Getting old in America is rough. Health care expenses, needing extra attention from one’s family, and giving up the comforts of home to move into senior housing amount to an experience that can be degrading. But while society may treat the elderly as a burden, Tim Carpenter, director of Southern California arts non-profit EngAGE, sees an opportunity to create a period of life that’s full of self-discovery, joy, and community.
His 13-year-old nonprofit brings arts and wellness programs to the apartment buildings of 6,000 low- and moderate-income adults over age 55 at 30 sites around the Los Angeles area. In Burbank, EngAGE was instrumental in the development of The Burbank Senior Artists Colony–a 141-unit apartment complex for the elderly built around the arts, including a theater group, film company, and music program. In the next year, EngAGE will help open two more arts colonies in North Hollywood and Long Beach.
Senior housing facilities pay EngAGE a fee to offer programming onsite. The rest of their operating budget is met through fundraising, grants, and corporate sponsorships.
Carpenter’s passion for working with the elderly traces back to his upbringing in a large Irish-Catholic family, where storytelling was paramount. “I just very early on thought that older people told better stories than younger people did,” he says, “And I ended up at that end of the dinner table.”
But his experience working in health care for older adults during his 20s showed him that society doesn’t necessarily have the same level of respect for older people’s creativity. Residences for seniors were “depressing,” a place to “warehouse” people no longer considered valuable, Carpenter explains. “These are people who have been told by society for a long time that they don’t matter, that they’re invisible….”
Written by Elizabeth Ecker