Elders in Action is powered by the wisdom and talent of our volunteers. People of all backgrounds and experience share their unique skills to improve the lives of others. Enjoy some of their stories on the "Our Volunteers" page.
Helping Older Adults To
Age In Place
Age In Place
In 2003, when Frances Spak walked in to Elders in Actions, she stated she was "interested in the welfare of low-income elders" and over the years she has proved that is one of her driving passions.
At that time, she became an Elders in Action Commissioner which is a 31-member panel that advises local officials on programs and policies affecting older adults, of which she is still a member today. Spak's desires to help low-income seniors started much earlier as reflected in her career as a consultant and coordinator for social services agencies in Ohio and Oregon. From 1992 to 2002, she was the Emergency Services Coordinator for Portland Impact (now Impact NW) where she was responsible for energy, water, and food assistance.
Frances has always been an advocate for "livable communities" and as an Elders in Action Commissioner she has testified before the City Council on pedestrian safety where she says "suggestions were taken seriously about building more sidewalks and pedestrian islands, and installing traffic lights and crosswalks on busy streets," she says. At Elders in Action, Frances is known for her bicycling days where after 67 years of not being on a bike she became an advocate for the Older Adult Three-Wheeled Bicycle Program which was a partnership between City of Portland Bureau of Transportation and our agency. The program is now being run through Portland Parks & Recreation. Frances is currently working with Elders in Action, Aging & Disability Services, Impact NW, Neighborhood House, and others on the Senior Hunger Work Group to focus community attention on the growing problem of senior poverty and food insecurity.
Now at 84, Frances works full-time for a program that helps seniors age in place. With funding from a Federal grant, Jewish Family & Child Service launched the JFCS NORC Project in 2008, a nonsectarian program designed to help North Portland neighborhood residents successfully age-in-place. NORC stands for a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community which could refer to a street of single-family homes where resident's raised families and then aged together in place or to an apartment building inhabited by long-time residents. It's a nationwide program seeking to counter the isolation that often reduces the quality of life for Americans as they age. Like Elders in Action, Spak often advises older adults on services to help them to stay in their homes. "What I am basically is a connector," says Spak.
Elders in Action is proud of our long term relationship with Frances and look forward to collaborating with her in the future to determine ways for older adults to stay comfortably in their homes for as long as possible.
Volunteers (left - right) Dorothy C. Fisher, Ben Owre, and Frances Spak at a Volunteer Brunch.
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