Territorial Silvercrest Forum Addresses Issues of Aging

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By Major Carol Pontsler – 

Eighty delegates and presenters gathered for the third Territorial Silvercrest Ministries Forum this week. Resident managers and staff, corps officers, management agents and divisional and territorial administrative officers considered information and issues related to the ongoing ministry of The Salvation Army to residents of the territory’s 33 low-cost independent living facilities for the elderly. Ten of these facilities have been opened since the last Silvercrest Ministries Forum held in October 1994.

Notable guests were Monsignor Charles Fahey of the Third Age Center of Fordham University in New York; Mr. William Bolton, director of multi-family housing at the Los Angeles office of HUD, and Major Ron Sharegan of Catherine Booth Bible College in Winnipeg, Canada.

The purpose of the forum is to assist both residence and corps staff to realize the mission effectively, which is to “to provide clean, safe and comfortable housing to low-income elderly persons, and to do so in an environment that is sensitive and responsive to the needs of individual residents, but not intrusive of personal privacy.

“In concert with the adjacent Corps Community Center, the residence seeks to provide a range of supportive services intended to sustain independent living and to enrich the quality of residents’ lives through opportunities for social fellowship, personal growth and spiritual nurture.”

Foundational concepts were clearly laid by Monsignor Fahey, who emphasized the important role of the Gospel in bringing meaning and growth in the “third age.” His sessions on “Understanding Those We Serve” was followed by a presentation on “The Spiritual Tasks of Later Life.” The Salvation Army’s evolving partnership with HUD and the changes and challenges that lie ahead were the topic of Bolton’s remarks. Time was given to an introduction and review of The Salvation Army Basic Standards for Elderly Housing, and the accompanying tool for residence self-evaluation, and the newly initiated Territorial Silvercrest Council, which played a significant role in the development and planning of the seminar.

In addition, skill building sessions were held in several critical resident-related areas, such as depression in the elderly and support services for the frail elderly.

Roles and inter-relationships between corps and residence were the focus of a number of sessions, including one on the topic of “The Corps Officer As Chaplain,” ably presented by Sharegan.

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