Senior Agenda Coalition of RI zeros in on key aging legislation 

Published in RINewsToday on May 30, 2022

As the General Assembly winds down, the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island (SACRI) is tracking 16 House and Senate Bills along with FY 24 Budget Articles that have an impact on the state’s senior population. In a legislative alert, SACRI details a listing of 16 House and Senate bills and FY23 Budget Articles relating to care givers, mobile dental services, supplemental nutrition, housing, tax relief and home care worker wages. 

The state’s largest organization of aging groups is focusing and pushing for passage of the following four bills during the upcoming weeks.

SCARI puts on its radar screen S-2200/H-7489 to push for passage. The legislation (prime sponsors Senator Louis DiPalma (D-District 12) and Representative Julie Casimiro (D-District 31), establishes a process which would require Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), assisted by a 24-member advisory committee, to provide review and recommendations for rate setting, and ongoing review of medical and clinical service programs licensed by state departments, agencies and Medicaid.  

Meanwhile, DiPalma and Casimiro have also introduced S-2311/H-7180 to require a 24-member advisory committee to provide review/recommendations for rate setting/ongoing review of social service programs licensed by state departments/agencies and Medicaid. The House and Senate Finance Committees have recommended these measures be held for further study.

Ratcheting Up the Pay for Rhode Island’s Home Care Workers

In testimony on April 28th, SACRI’s Executive Director Bernard J. Beaudreau says, “Because payment levels for services have not been updated in years, especially in our current inflation ,levels, the low-pay level of direct care workers has created workforce shortages, impoverished workers and has put at risk our ability to provide proper care for our aging elder population.”

“Shamefully, an estimated 1 in 5 Rhode Island home care workers live in poverty and most have insufficient incomes to meet their basic needs,” says Beaudreau, calling for enactment of this bill to raise the wages of the lowest paid care workers as a top priority. 

S-2200 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee and companion measure, H 7489, was referred to the House Finance committees for review.  After hearings in their respective chambers, both bills are being held for further study. 

At press time, the Rhode Island General Assembly is hammering out its state budget for Fiscal Year 2023, taking effect July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023.  SACARI calls on the state to make it a budgetary priority to address Rhode Island’s home care crisis.

According to Maureen Maigret, Chair of the Aging in Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council, who also serves SACRI as a volunteer policy adviser and Board Member, says that the Governor’s budget calls for suspending use of an estimated $38.6 million in state funds which, by law, should be used to enhance home and community-based services. This law, says Maigret, is referred to as the “Perry-Sullivan” law after its sponsors.

Maigret calls for these funds to be used to increase home care provider rates so they may be fair and competitive to home care workers and increase rates for independent providers.  Many of these workers are low-income, women, and women of color, she says.

Lowering the property taxes for Rhode Island’s low-income seniors

SACRI also calls for the Rhode Island General Assembly to provide property tax relief for low-income seniors and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) recipients. As housing costs rise and property taxes increase, more older Rhode Islanders with limited or fixed incomes and those on SSDI are becoming housing tax burdened, says the Providence-based the aging advocacy coalition. 

In SACRI’s legislative alert, Maigret calls for the passage of H-7127 and S-2192, with primary sponsors Representative Deborah Ruggiero (D-District 74) and Senator Cynthia Armour Coyne (D-32), charging that Rhode Island’s property tax relief law needs urgent updating.

Rhode Island’s Property Tax Review Law, sometimes referred to as the Circuit Breaker Law, needs serious updating. Initially the law was enacted to help provide property tax relief for persons aged 65 and over and to those on SSDI, says Maigret.  It is currently available to those with incomes up to $30,000 (set in 1999) and provides a credit or refund up to $415 against a person’s state taxes owed.  Both homeowners and renters are eligible to a apply. 

H-7127 and S-2192 would make hundreds of older Rhode Islanders eligible to participate by increasing the income cap from $30,000 to $ 50,000. Maigret notes that if these bills pass, a person with household incomes of $35,000 who is not eligible now could be eligible to get a refund of up to $850 next year. “These changes would provide direct relief against high property taxes and make Rhode Island more in line with our neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts,” she says.

Finally, Executive Director Beaudreau testified on May 17th before the House Finance Committee, calling for the passage of H-7616, Reinstating the Department of Healthy Aging. “The time is long overdue for the state to re-invest in serving the needs of aging population,” he says, noting that “the state’s total population of 65 years and older has grown by 20% from 152,283 in 2010 to 182,486 today.”

Beaudreau testified that the “data clearly indicates that Rhode Island should be increasing plans, resources and services to meet the need of the state’s aging population, not cutting back.” The state’s budget has not kept up with the growth needed in the Office of Healthy Aging, charged with overseeing the state’s programs and services for older Rhode Islanders. “Additional funding is needed for increasing the Department’s staffing capacity and increasing financial support of Senior Centers serving thousands of older Rhode Islanders every say,” he adds.

But do not forget oral health of seniors, says SACRI.  According to the aging coalition, the importance of accessing quality oral health care in nursing homes is key to a nursing facility resident’s health, well-being and quality of life. Poor oral health care results in a higher incidence of, pneumonia cardiovascular disease diabetes, bone loss and cancer; all situations increasing the frequency of accessing medical care resulting in higher costs. 

Improving oral health care to Rhode Island’s seniors and special populations

SACRI calls for the passage of S-2588 and H-7756, bills that would provide for reimbursement for patient site encounter mobility dentistry visits to be increased to $180 per visit. The state’s reimbursement for mobile dentistry site visits began in 2008, only in nursing homes, but failed to provide funding for dental care in other settings. 

These bills would also expand the availability of this service to additional community-based group homes, assisted living facilities, adult day health and intellectual and developmental disability day programs. Passage of these bills will increase access to special populations who have difficulty in accessing basic dental services.

S-2588, referred to the Senate Finance Committee, was held for further study.  The House companion measure is scheduled to be heard on May 28th at a House Finance Committee hearing. 

Reimbursement for this service has not increased since it was initially funded over 14 years ago and does not cover the cost of delivering this critical service, says SACRI.

SACRI says “Make your voice heard!  Call House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (401 222-2466) and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (401 222-6555) and your legislative delegation to urge supporting SACRI’s priority legislation. 

To see a listing of SACRI’s 2022 Priority Legislation, go to https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/049a7960-1c2a-4880-afdd-8d1e0e283acc/downloads/SACRI%20Bill%20Tracker%202022.pdf?ver=1653052514912.

For more details about SACRI, go to https://senioragendari.org/

Senior Agenda Coalition of RI honors senior heroes

Published in RINewstoday on May 23, 2022

During Older Americans Month, it was a wonderful time to break bread, catch up with old friends and to recognize outstanding Rhode Island senior advocates. After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 100 people gathered at the Providence Marriott Downtown to attend the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island’s [link to members https://senioragendari.org/coalition ] (SACRI) 6th Annual Awards “Celebrating our Senior Heroes,” to honor eight honorees from the government, private and community agency sectors.

Kicking off the awards luncheon, SACRI’s Executive Director Bernard J. Beaudreau, recognized and thanked a slew of elected leaders and state officials in attendance: Lt. Governor Sabina Matos; Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and Democratic candidate for Governor; Director Maria Cimini, Director, Office of Healthy Aging; Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-District 4) who brought Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey (D-District 29); Deputy Senate Majority Leaders James Seveney (D-District 11) and Senators Sandra Cano (D-District 9); Josh Miller (D-District 28); House Deputy Majority Leader Laura Carson (D-District 75); House Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-District 2);Terri Cortvriend (D-District 72); Deborah Ruggiero (D-District 74); and Susan Donovan, (D-District 69). Former Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, now serving as president of the Rhode Island Hospital Association, also attended.

Beaudreau, assisted by Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, called up each honoree to be presented with a citation and inscribed box. This year’s advocate heroes are: Rhode Island Lawmakers, House Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski, and Senators Mary Ellen Goodwin, and former State Senator Harold Metts, Elder Information Specialist Deborah Burton, SCACRI Volunteer and adviser Doris Stearn Donovan, Former SACRI Executive Director William Flynn, Case Manager Extraordinaire Saul Richman, and Community Organizer Marjorie Waters. (see bios below)

“Taking a moment to acknowledge and thank those who have stood out as leaders, people who made the extra effort for the greater good, whether being an elected leader, or work/volunteer for a community agency is an important part of building our members for change,” says Beaudreau. “These honored heroes inspire and motivate us to step up to the plate and get in the [legislative] game. They fuel us all to do our part,” he says.

Praising SACRI’s Senior Heroes

Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, who co-chairs the state’s Long-Term Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC) also saluted SACRI’s honorees. “Thank you to the awardees & the Coalition for your tireless advocacy & service to older adults in our state,” Matos said.

Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi offered his congratulations.

“I applaud all the award-winners, particularly House Majority Leader Blazejewski and Senate Majority Whip Goodwin. They are well-deserving of this honor due to their demanding work and dedication on many senior issues. They were the respective House and Senate sponsors of a bill passed a few years back which established an individual provider model for home care in Rhode Island. This model gives seniors another option to be cared for at home and remain connected to their communities and families. Older residents prefer home care. Not only is it more comfortable for seniors, but it is also more cost-effective,” he said.

According to Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio, Sens. Goodwin, Metts and Representative Christopher Blazejewski have been tremendous advocates for Rhode Island’s seniors, and they are incredibly deserving of this recognition.

“Whip Goodwin has long been a champion for seniors and people living with disabilities in our state. Last year, she helped shepherd the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act into law, a critical step in addressing the resident care crisis in Rhode Island by setting new staffing requirements and minimum standards of care.

In 2018, she helped lead a successful effort to expand home-based care for seniors and the disabled. She also worked to improve reimbursement rates for nursing homes, among many other accomplishments,” said Senate President Ruggerio.

“During his decades in the General Assembly, former Senator Metts was a powerful advocate for the Meals on Wheels program, as well as efforts to restore free bus passes for low-income seniors and people living with disabilities. His work has improved the lives of thousands of Rhode Islanders, including many of the most vulnerable members of our communities. I am forever grateful for his service and his friendship,” notes the Senate President.

Two SACRI Board members also gave thumbs-up to the latest group of SACRI heroes, too.

“It was exciting to see such great participation in the luncheon to honor this year’s senior heroes,” says Maureen Maigret, the Senior Agenda’s policy adviser who serves on its Board. “This year’s heroes included both legislative leaders who have been strong advocates for seniors and members of the community who work to bring dignity, respect, and an excellent quality of life for older Rhode Islanders. I salute them,” says Maigret.

According to Maigret, the state’s legislative leaders have also been responsive to senior advocates, supporting the creating the Aging in Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council promoted by the Senior Agenda Coalition.

“There are a variety of Senior Heroes in our community, and it is important for the Senior Agenda Coalition of RI to pause and give recognition to these selfless individuals. These soldiers for service are truly compassionate people who advocate for legislative changes that will improve “living in place” for older adults/families,” says Vin Marzullo, a well-known aging advocate who served as a federal civil rights and national service administrator. They help organize and promote the use of local elder services (nutrition, health care, and recreational), and they help protect and aid seniors who are victims of abuse,” noted the West Warwick resident, one of the newest Senior Agenda Board Members.

Honorees at SACRI’s Recognition

Deborah Burton expressed her gratitude for being given the prestigious SACRI recognition. “As advocates, we lean into our work to make the world a better place for all of us without necessarily being aware of the ripple effect we have on our community,” says Deb Burton, gerontologist and Executive Director of RI Elder Information, a website providing resources to older Rhode Islanders. “I was extremely honored to be recognized by Senior Agenda Coalition as a Senior Hero! The other nominees are wonderful people tirelessly doing amazing advocacy work and I am proud to be counted among them,” she adds.

Senator Goodwin stated that she “felt humbled to be included among such a distinguished group of honorees, especially my friend Harold Metts. This award is incredibly special to me, and to receive it from an organization as vital and esteemed as the SACRI is extremely meaningful,” she said, noting that this organization has been an incredible ally in my work and the work of my colleagues, and I know it will continue to be in the future.”

SACRI is an independent and diverse coalition of agency and individual members.  Its mission is to mobilize people to achieve power in order to implement an agenda that improves the quality of life of Rhode Island seniors.  For details about this group, go to https://senioragendari.org/

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Bios of Honorees:

House Leader Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-District 2) — For over 12 years, Rep. Blazejewski has championed environmental protection, education, civil rights, senior services, health care, and economic opportunity for working families. Among the senior issues he has advocated for over the years, Blazejewski worked tirelessly to pass legislation creating an Independent Provider (IP) program for home care in Rhode Island. That innovative program is helping expand the home care workforce. He also helped win its continued funding. Responding the COVID’s impact on nursing home residents, he helped pass legislation raising quality standards for nursing homes. He again worked with the Senior Agenda Coalition to help pass the Nursing Home Safe Staffing and Quality Care Act.

Deborah Burton — As Executive Director of RI Elder Info and creator of rielderinfo.com, Burton maintains the most comprehensive, expert-curated, multilingual resources for Seniors, Caregivers and Professionals in Rhode Island. She is the creator and host of Friday Friends-a weekly livestream and podcast and serves as Master of Ceremonies for RI Elder Info’s Virtual Senior Resource Fairs, annual Calling All Veterans Day and annual Calling All Women Warriors.

For over 30 years, Burton has been a strong advocate for aging independently, in the community of our choosing, surrounded by those that we care for and who care for us. She has provided outreach and education to the community on how to achieve these goals.Doris Stearn Donovan

Doris Stearn Donovan — The deputy director of the Rhode Island Foundation has become a powerful advocate for older seniors. During SACRI’s 2020 Strategic Plan sessions, Donovan urged that in the years ahead the organization work harder to combat ageism, especially discrimination toward people over age 75. Donovan has an impressive career. She was valedictorian of her class at Bown; an expert in educational-program evaluation. She has served also served on many boards including Children’s Friend and the George Wiley Center.

William F. Flynn – Under his leadership, hundreds of older Rhode Islanders have engaged in successful citizen action to win public policy changes over the years. Flynn served as served as SACRI’s Executive Director from 2008 to early 2022. Prior to joining the Coalition, he held leadership positions at the RI Community Food Bank, George Wiley Center, and Urban League of Rhode Island. During Flynn’s tenure at SACRI, the organization achieved important wins. These included: Permanent state funding for the No-Fare Bus Pass Program for seniors and persons with disabilities; Increasing annual funding for Meals on Wheels and Senior Centers; Higher pay for home health care workers; Raising the Bar legislation for increased staffing and pay increases for direct care providers in nursing homes; and, Increasing eligibility for moderate income seniors for home care cost-share options.

Senator Maryellen Goodwin — With over 36 years in the Senate under her belt, the  Rhode Island Senate Majority Whip, the third-ranking member of the Senate Leadership, has been a fierce advocate and effective advocate for seniors in the Senate. Last legislative session, the Senator helped to enact the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act into law, setting new staffing requirements and minimum standards of care.

In 2018, she also pushed to expand home-based care for seniors and the disabled along with working to  improve reimbursement rates for nursing homes.

Senator Harold Metts – After serving as State Representative from 1984 to 1998, Metts would later win a seat in the upper Chamber in 2004, serving until 2020. Metts. Served as President, vice president and twice Secretary of The Rhode Island Black Caucus of State Legislators; and former Secretary/chaplain of The Rhode Island Caucus of Black and Latino State Legislators. During his 30 years in the General Assembly, the Senator was an advocate for the Meals on Wheels program, and for touring free bus passes for low-income seniors and people living with disabilities.

Saul Richman – For several years Richman has worked a case manager for Protective Services for Tri-County Community Action Agency. He also assists seniors to learn more about Medicare benefit. When the state of Rhode Island gets a report that an older adult needs assistance, Richman makes a home visit, gathers information, and works to provide them with appropriate public services. His tireless efforts have helped to resolve issues of countless senior clients. Oftentimes he goes beyond his duties to ensure the safety and security that his clients require, working well beyond his workday scheduled.

Marjorie Waters – Serves as a Community Organizer for the Rhode Island Organizing Project (RIOP), a leadership role that she has held over the past eight years. As to her organizing strategy, Waters listens to what older adults are saying. Her rule is “don’t think you know what you’re going to hear..”  She listens, and then she acts. Before RIOP, Marjorie directed the Westminster Senior Center in Providence after an earlier career in information technology. Waters was a leader in both the Home Care Independence Provider Program and the Raise the Bar coalitions, both of which passed the legislature and have a profound impact of the daily and quality of living situations for those who need homecare and nursing home care.

About the Senior Agenda Coalition:

https://senioragendari.org

The Senior Agenda Coalition is an independent and diverse coalition of agency and individual members. Our mission is to mobilize people to achieve power in order to implement an agenda that improves the quality of life of older Rhode Islanders. We accomplish this through community organizingpublic education and legislative advocacy.

To read all articles by Herb Weiss, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/herb-weiss/

To the Class of 2022: Age boldly, enjoy your journey

Published in RINewsToday on May 16, 2022

According to Research.com, this year commencement speakers at colleges and universities in Rhode Island will impart their “pearls of wisdom“ to 19,782 graduating college seniors and their families. The usual commencement speech, traditionally about 10 minutes in length, offers simple tips and observations that, if taken, just might offer the young graduates a more rewarding personal and professional life ahead. Social media platforms and websites will quickly disseminate this sage advice given by well-known lawmakers, judges, television personalities and CEOs, to millions across the globe.

Globe columnist Dan McGowan gives his readers in the Rhode Map, the paper’s free newsletter about Rhode Island, a who’s who list of well-known commencement speakers that will gather at Rhode Island’s 12 Colleges and Universities to give the Class of 2022 advice on making their new journey in the world amidst the continuing COVID-19 pandemic causing sweeping societal changes in the workplace, health care, and social activity. 

McGowan’s detailed listing of “marquee names” delivering commencement speeches at Rhode Island’s colleagues and universities are:  

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Brown University; Emmy Award-winning actor and director Henry Winkler at  New England Institute of Technology; Human Resource Guru William J. Conaty at Bryant College; Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee at CCRI; Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman at Providence College;  Entrepreneur and Author Bruce Poon Tip, Founder of G Adventures; Miriam Hospital President Maria Ducharme at Rhode Island College, Deep Sea Explorer Robert Ballard noted for his work in undersea archeology at URI; Graphic designer, educator and Author Cheryl D. Miller at RISD; Navyn Salem, who founded the nonprofit Edesia, Inc. whose mission is to treat and prevent global malnutrition at Salve Regina; and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical adviser to the president at Roger Williams University.

This year’s commencement speakers are very well-deserving of their honor to address Rhode Island’s graduating college seniors.  But if I had an opportunity to speak before the graduating class of 2022, here are my thoughts and tips I would give, centered on the importance of aging gracefully and boldly over your accumulating years, and they will accumulate faster than anyone could imagine.

Aging can be viewed as a life-long, unpredictable journey.  A slang phrase in Wikipedia sums up “a simple existential observation that life is full of unpredictable events. Over the years, you might have heard the phrase, “Shit Happens.” Many people choose to hold on to their fading youth, not wanting to look in the mirror to see wrinkles, sagging stomachs, and even gray hair.  They hold fiercely to their memories of the 1963 Pepsi Generation commercial that celebrated youth and active people.   

It’s so easy to say, accept and embrace your aging.  

You will be tempted to chase after prestige, power, the perfect relationship, or a high paying job.  I say being healthy is your most important possession you can have in your lifetime. Cherish it. Work towards it. URI Gerontologist Phil Clark once told me, “Use it or lose it. Stay as physically active as you can.”  “If you rest, you rust,” he says, noting that physical exercise elevates our mood and benefits our cardiovascular system, too. This conversation took place over 25 years ago, and I still remember this advice.  

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a North Attleboro couple, Mark and Nancy Shorrock began dining daily, seven days a week, if their schedules permitted, at Spumoni’s Restaurant in Pawtucket.  Over the years, they developed personal relationships with around 30 couples who frequented the informal restaurant and bar. While not a support system, that informal group who knew each other innately, benefited the Shorrocks, and I would think all of the people who kept coming back as regularly as they did. 

The importance of being around others is documented in a 2017 national report. The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) report, released by AARP, cites strong scientific evidence that behavior changes and lifestyle habits can positively impact one’s brain health. It’s not uncommon for social networks to shrink as we age. “Research tells us that larger social networks may positively impact your health, well-being, even your cognitive functioning,” said Sarah Lock, AARP Senior vice president for Policy and GCBH Executive Director. 

So, as the decades fly by, work to maintain your social network of family and friends to maintain good cognitive functioning. And while you may build your on-line networks, do not overlook the greater importance of the in-person kind, those you break bread with, share what your children may be doing, or call just to hear a voice who knows a whole lot about you, without your even having to say it.      

Research also tells us that you can also reduce your risk of cognitive decline by exercising your brain. Take time in your busy day to read newspapers, magazines, and books, or even play a challenging crossword puzzle, build your vocabulary, learn a new skill, even play chess.

Being a volunteer can also be a protective buffer from the curve balls that life may throw at us as we age. “Volunteering can be medicine for the soul. It allows you to connect with other people, explore and remedy emerging community issues, make a difference as a caregiver or mentor and change lives. Volunteering is powerful and can define and redirect your life’s journey,” says Vincent Marzullo, who for 31 years served as RI’s National Service Director and still volunteers weekly at Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

When you require help, don’t be afraid to ask your family, friends or even professional colleagues for support and assistance. People will always go up the ladder of their careers, even down, too.  Take the opportunity to be there for not only people you know, but also strangers when they need a helping hand to jump-start their faltering personal relationships or professional careers. 

Time really does fly after you graduate college.  Don’t be afraid to pivot in your career – you may have spent 4 years or 8 years or many more studying and becoming an expert in a particular subject, but find your passion calls you to another career-path. Don’t be afraid to take the path that calls out the loudest for you. As you move into your middle or later years, view your life as a meaningful journey, living in the present, not tied to past experiences, nor possible future events. It’s the journey, not the end result, that you should focus on.

Amma, a well-known Hindu spiritual teacher, tells her millions of followers to view their life as a ‘canceled check.’ Let go of those past regrets, forgive yourself for those mistakes especially made in childhood and teenage years, more important those you made as you move into your middle or later years. Don’t regret passing up personal or professional opportunities, for others will follow, she says. Use your time on earth wisely; don’t waste it carrying the burdens of past guilt or personal grudges. Think about that.

View your life as being back in high school, learning from each positive and negative experience you encounter. When you confront life’s health, financial, and personal and professional challenges, keep a positive attitude. Don’t be overwhelmed by negative thoughts. Each day you will make daily choices as to how you will react to your problems. In these situations, you can either see the proverbial glass as either being “half-full” or “half-empty.” A positive attitude allows you to see a “half-full” glass, thus allowing you to successfully overcome the adversity.

As we grow older, we sometimes put too much energy into reflecting on our personal and professional defeats, being depressed on the “bad hands” we were dealt. Savor your victories, but always forgive yourself for your shortcomings and failures. Learning from your shortcomings and defeats will build a strong bridge to future successes.

Also, forgive others who have hurt you personally and professionally. You cannot live or reconcile your life peacefully if you are still holding onto grudges, anger, and bitterness, all tied to past relationships or negative employment experiences.

Writer Simon Kent tells us a powerful story about forgiveness in an article penned in 2013 on the Toronto Sun’s website. When Nelson Mandela’s National African party won the election that would end apartheid in South Africa, he forgave his white political foes, says Kent, noting that the power of forgiveness kept the black majority ruling party from seeking revenge.

According to Kent, at his 1994 inauguration, Prisoner 46664 — Nelson Mandela — had kept a seat set aside for a very special guest he wanted to witness his swearing-in as President, the highest office in the land. This person, one of his former jailers from Robben Island, where he was held for 18 years of hard labor. 

Why do we continue to hold anger, bitterness, and grudges against others? If Mandela can easily forgive his former jailor and a white society that kept his black brothers and sisters enslaved for centuries, why can’t you forgive others, too? 

Pass on your hard-earned wisdom. As you begin to accumulate more of life’s professional and personal experiences, share your story with others, especially those younger than you. By the time you reach your twilight years, you will have accumulated a huge reservoir of untapped wisdom gained from your life’s journey from making both good and bad decisions.  When taking on the new role of parent or grandparent, always continue to share your insights and lessons you have learned to your children and grandchildren.  The generations following you will lose out if you remain silent and keep your knowledge and history from them.

Get off the treadmill of life. Learn to slow down and enjoy the simple moments of your life. In her books and lectures, nationally-acclaimed author Connie Goldman, has stated that the simple act of watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset or even puttering around your garden can be as stimulating as a jam-packed calendar of activities.  

My final thought – nothing is guaranteed in life except death, taxes, and even, hopefully, growing old. So, Class of 2022, I urge you to make the most of your life that is just beginning to unfold before you. Don’t focus on the end result. Focus on the journey. Sometimes it is not the big things that you do that count, rather the simple daily acts of loving kindness you give to all those around you.  

Enjoy your new journey. Age boldly.