Events | Post-Its | Seniors | Upcoming

Second AgeWell Day Will Offer Fun and Fellowship

The Jewish community of Southern Arizona will host its second AgeWell Day on Tuesday, May 7. The event brings together community members aged 60 and above for activities and camaraderie.

Positive relationships and social connections are the keys to happier, healthier, longer lives, according to a multi-decade Harvard study. But social isolation has been an ongoing problem for older adults, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Years after mandatory COVID-19 lockdowns ended, many struggle to re-engage. With all of this in mind, the Jewish Community Ecosystem Caring for Others Workgroup created the AgeWell Day pilot program to encourage connection within the local Jewish community, says Amy Glass, vice president of strategy and community impact for Jewish of Southern Arizona.

The May 7 AgeWell Day event will be held at the Tucson Jewish Community Center from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. The registration fee is $5 (free for caregivers) and transportation will be provided for those who need it at no charge.

A total of 79 people, including six caregivers, attended the first AgeWell Day, held on Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Tucson J.

The event received high marks from participants. Sixty-seven of the 79 participants, or 85 percent, completed a brief survey. Sixty-eight percent of those people said they would like to attend more activities like AgeWell Day and 63 percent responded “yes” to the statement “I felt more connected to peers in my community as a result of attending AgeWell Day.”

One person wrote, “Wonderful event. Really amazing! The only thing I didn’t like was the coffee.” Other comments included “Our table had some very interesting people whom I had never met. So much fun”, and “Terrific seeing folks we had not seen in a long time.”

Although many praised the lunch, others suggested that there were better choices for an event with a focus on healthy living than breaded chicken.

Participant Rita Pollak loved the AgeWell Day concept and enjoyed the cooking demonstration by Handmaker Executive Chef Claire Ferguson. However, Ferguson was so well organized that she finished early, Pollak says, which left too much time for a question-and-answer session with a nutritionist.

Although the feedback from other participants was very positive, Pollak thought the program could be improved. She shared her thoughts with JPSA Community Impact Manager Robyn Schwager and was invited to join the subcommittee organizing the May 7 event.

“If you’re going to complain, you might as well step up,” Pollak says.

One of her concerns was a lack of programming before the first class at the December AgeWell Day. In May, there will be an orientation and a welcome by a comedian along with time for schmoozing.

The May 7 event also will include a plenary session between the class sessions. The plenary will spotlight Connect Jewish Tucson, a new website that allows individuals to create, promote, and join community events. As a peer-to-peer hub, Connect Jewish Tucson complements the Community Calendar, which is organization-based.

Jacob Meyer, a former JPSA community impact manager, will lead the plenary session and also will teach a class afterward for those who would like additional technology support.

The two class sessions will each offer four choices, including an art class with Julie Stein in both sessions.

One new option for the May 7 event is an instant storytelling class taught by Mel Blumenthal, the community outreach director for Female StoryTellers and a regular on several storytelling stages in Tucson.

Storytelling can foster connection among peers and across the generations, Blumenthal says.

Blumenthal and her co-facilitator, Leigh Spencer, the storytelling chair of Female StoryTellers, will use a wheel of prompts to encourage participants. They also will provide tips for expanding a brief story into a longer narrative.

Other class choices include mindfulness, cooking, fitness, and Jewish learning, with the last taught by Rabbi Sandy Seltzer. His topic will be “Life is a Journey and Death a Destination,” based on a well-known poem by Rabbi Alvin Fine.

The May 7 AgeWell Day will conclude with lunch — featuring salads with grilled chicken or tofu rather than a hot dish — and a closing discussion.

AgeWell Day is a community collaboration, with four sponsoring agencies — Handmaker, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, the Tucson J, and JPSA. Eleven other organizations, synagogues, and agencies are helping to publicize the event. The program is supported by a grant from the Community Fund to Support Jewish Elderly and Disabled managed by the Jewish Community Foundation at JPSA.

Registration is available here. For assistance, contact Arielle Shemesh, community impact project coordinator at JPSA, at (520) 647-8448.