For the past five years, MNRAAA has been fortunate to partner with the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to work with our most rural (population under 3,000) communities on Age Friendly Community projects. MNRAAA’s Program Developers work with communities each year to complete a community-wide survey and to create Community Leadership Teams in each town. The survey is based on a survey tool created by AARP but adapted to meet each community’s needs.
Once the survey is completed and results collated, the information is used to help each Community Leadership Team identify the assets and needs of their town. By looking at the needs, a list of priorities is developed to address identified needs. The MNRAAA Program Developer assists each community to meet needs that may require no funding or a small amount of funds and access grant resources to meet larger needs. This partnership with SWIF provides communities with a shortened version of the AARP Age Friendly process.
One example of a low-cost need identified through a community survey was the need for a handrail on outdoor steps to assist people with accessing a local building. A group of volunteers installed a handrail within a few days of identifying the need. In another community, the need for gatherings was identified. The community’s churches decided to rotate offering a meal to older adults once a month, with volunteer programs also offered each month. In a town of 800 people, the monthly luncheons averaged an attendance of 50 – 60 people.
MNRAAA’s Program Developers are available to meet with city staff and/or community members to further explain the Age Friendly process and the benefits of becoming an Age Friendly Community. We look forward to hearing from anyone who might like more information. Find your Program Developer at www.mnraaa.org. More information about Minnesota’s Age Friendly efforts can be found at https://mn.gov/dhs/age-friendly-mn/.