Philanthropy Friday: The LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI)


LGBT Elder Initiative

Every Friday Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) Executive Director Samantha Giusti introduces you to a local LGBT non-profit in Philadelphia. This week, the LGBT Elder Initiative, an awesome DVLF grantee who works to promote healthy aging among LGBTQ older adults—the pioneers of our movement (and us, one day.) 

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Heshie Zinman, chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative.

Who are you? Heshie Zinman, chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative (LGBTEI). We are a volunteer-driven, grassroots organization dedicated to building bridges between the aging services network and LGBT older adults. We focus on improving awareness of, and access to, the services offered by the aging services network and those available within LGBT communities.

When was LGBTEI founded? LGBTEI was founded in 2010 as a result of the LGBT Elder Survey and a Community Summit on Aging that attracted over 125 people from more than 20 states.

Describe the need you address: The EI is unique in the Delaware Valley, specifically addressing the issues and challenges facing members of the LGBT older adult communities. Through advocacy, education, information dissemination, referral, and training, we work to assure that LGBT older adults have every opportunity to live vibrant, creative and mutually supportive lives. Our core programs are the Conversations series of free community education workshops and our website, which contains information and resources about LGBT senior-friendly housing, medical care, legal services, nutrition, and more. The EI also offers cultural competency—training for providers in the aging services network.

The LGBTEI’s shining moment, to date? Working with diverse members of the community to develop and implement some of the most successful community education/information dissemination platforms like the Conversations series, the EI website and our “Gettin’ On” column in PGN. Hearing from constituents that these programs and information have truly given people the information necessary to help them age successfully.

If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … We would do the things necessary to build an infrastructure that would allow us the capacity to expand and deliver our programs and information to our constituents i.e. LGBT community members and service providers from the aging services network and LGBT serving networks in the Delaware Valley and beyond.

Attendees at the “LGBT Older Women’s Health” Conversation were able to try Tai Chi, learn how to make nutritious snacks and explore their options under the Affordable Care Act.

Attendees at the “LGBT Older Women’s Health” Conversation were able to try Tai Chi, learn how to make nutritious snacks and explore their options under the Affordable Care Act.

Special events coming up? On Saturday, December 6, 2014, the LGBTEI will present, “Grief, Loss & Possibility,” part of our Conversations series of free community workshops. The program is designed to connect people with people, information and resources to help them cope and move forward in life despite the physical and emotional losses that we will inevitably encounter as we age. “Grief, Loss & Possibility” will be held at the Penn LGBT Center (3907 Spruce Street) from 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. For more information, please call 267-546-3448 or email [email protected].

Are there ways I can contribute without giving money? The EI is a group of dedicated volunteers who use their diverse talents in many ways to help us achieve our mission. We can match your skills and interests with our needs so that we can all work to create an environment in which LGBT older adults have every opportunity to age successfully, at every age.

How can I donate money? Donations can be made to the LGBT Elder Initiative at C.A.R.I.E., Suite 1500, Two Penn Center, 1500 JFK Boulevard., Philadelphia, PA 19102. Online donations can be made here. Please make sure to note that the donation is to be directed to the LGBT Elder Initiative.