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A Message from Megan Walton and Southern Maine Agency on Aging

I have been stirred by the events of the past few weeks in our nation. The recent killing of George Floyd underscores the systemic racism and injustice that persists in our society. On behalf of the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, I add our collective voice to the call for transformative change that is sweeping our country. We stand with our black and brown colleagues, customers, and communities.You are seen, you are heard, and you are valued. Black lives matter.

As an Agency on Aging, our mission is to serve older adults, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers. Since SMAA’s inception under the Older Americans Act in 1965, OAA services are required to serve older adults with the greatest social or economic need. The term “greatest social need’’ refers to need caused by non-economic factors, which include: (a) physical and mental disabilities; (b) language barriers; and (c) cultural, social, or geographical isolation, including isolation caused by racial or ethnic status (National Center on Law and Elder Rights).

SMAA can, and must, do more to continually engage in conversation, and in action, to build a future that champions diversity, equality, inclusion, empathy, and justice. Our approach to racial equity work is the following:

  • Listen to voices of people in our community and those voices that have been historically marginalized. We need to listen so we can become stronger allies.
  • Learn about our own biases and examine our processes and practices. We will educate our staff  and volunteers. We have started to compile a list of resources here.
  • Act: We will update our own practices and policies. We will proactively seek out opportunities to support communities of color in our region. If you have ideas, we welcome you to connect with us.

As an Agency dedicated to serving older adults and adults with disabilities, we must show up every day with the desire to create real, lasting change; to look at ourselves, challenge our own biases, and speak up in the face of injustice and racism. We must name the oppression and racism against Black people that has been damaging our country for hundreds of years. In our country, Black people are too often denied basic privileges like dignity and respect.  At SMAA, we stand in solidarity with Black people and marginalized communities. We remain committed to creating a community in which all people are able to live to their fullest potential.   

There is no roadmap for this work, but we remain open, humble, and committed to the work we all must do, collectively, together.  

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Megan Walton
Southern Maine Agency on Aging
Chief Executive Officer