Partnerships in Aging Program

Linking Carolina with communities to foster new possibilities in later life

Author: Christopher Bendix

Orange County Master Aging Plan: Planning for an Age-Friendly Future

Between summer 2016 and spring 2017, the Partnerships in Aging Program, along with UNC students from Public Health, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, and City and Regional Planning assisted Orange County’s Department on Aging to develop the 2017-2022 Master Aging Plan, or MAP.  The MAP becomes Orange County’s road map for “all things aging,” including service delivery, funding allocations, and program improvements.

This time, the MAP was organized according to AARP and WHO’s “Age-Friendly Community” model, which highlights eight core domains: community services and health care, transportation, housing, social participation, outdoor spaces and buildings, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, and communication and information. Orange County was the first county in NC to sign on to AARP’s Age-Friendly Community initiative. The goals of the MAP are intended to make Orange County a better place for people of all ages to live.

Using the Age-Friendly Community model, the MAP process involved multiple rounds of outreach. More than 1000 Orange County residents completed a needs assessment survey; Orange County staff and Partnerships in Aging affiliates conducted 14 focus groups at various locations throughout Orange County; more than 30 in-person interviews were conducted with aging services providers, elected and appointed officials, faith-based organizations, and non-profits.  Finally, throughout early 2017, bi-weekly work-groups developed goals, objectives and indicators for each domain.  The MAP goals truly represent the collective interests, needs, and expertise of a diverse group of stakeholders.

The success of the MAP depends on continued collaboration and community involvement over the next five years. Without the participation of a variety of community members and organizations, an integrated countywide plan will not be successful. Achievement of this plan requires the recognition that we all are aging, that this plan affects all of us, and an age-friendly community benefits our county as a whole. In May, 2017, the Orange County Board of Commissioners formally accepted the MAP. We are excited to see what changes the new MAP brings for Orange County!

Pictured from left: Melissa Hunter, Student in UNC School of Social Work, Mo Devlin, Student in the UNC City and Regional Planning Department; Cherie Rosemond, Director of UNC Partnerships in Aging Program; Mary Fraser, Director of Orange County Aging Transitions; Janice Tyler, Director of the Orange County Department on Aging; Angela Hansel, Student in the UNC School of Public Health; Ryan Lavalley, Doctoral student in Occupational Science.

Senior Housing Expo

Overwhelmed by the thought of de-cluttering or downsizing?

Curious about whether renting or buying is best for you?

Worried about how you will maintain your home and yard?

All of these questions – and many more! – were addressed at Orange County’s second Aging in Community Housing Expo.  The EXPO was hosted by the Orange County Department on Aging on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Cherie Rosemond, PhD, Director of UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program, was joined by UNC graduate students Michelle Gonzales (Public Health) and Melissa Hunter (Social Work) to organize the event.

A photo of the “Housing Visioning Board” at the Aging in Community Housing Expo. From left: Melissa Hunter, graduate student in Social Work; Janice Tyler, Director of the Orange County Department on Aging; Cherie Rosemond, Director of the Partnerships in Aging Program; Mary Fraser, Director of the Orange County Aging Transitions Program; Michelle Gonzalez, graduate student in Public Health.

Aging service providers, developers, and entrepreneurs gathered at the Seymour Center to share their housing ideas with community members.

Over 200 participants attended the event, taking advantage of different ways to learn and share. Highlights of the event included:

  • 23 informational booths set up throughout the Seymour Center as a way for people to quickly learn about new ideas related to senior housing—and to meet the people behind organizations who are supporting our later lives.
  • 8 presentations were offered so participants could get detailed information about interesting topics related to senior housing. Presentation topics included a panel featuring neighborhoods that are organizing to prepare for aging, costs and availability of various housing models, what Orange County is doing to develop affordable senior housing, home safety, and Pee Wee Home communities.
  • Everyone in attendance was invited to share their dreams about later life housing by signing a Housing Vision Board.
  • Participants were invited to wear a button advertising their age as part of a campaign to dismantle ageism. The campaign, called “Be Bold: Claim Old,” brought many smiles as people enjoyed showing off their age.

The Partnerships in Aging Program is proud to be part of the push to ensure that elders in Orange County have inspiring, safe, affordable places to live.

SALT: Building Community and Looking Out for Each Other

Orange County SALT Program: Keeping Communities Connected

Twice per month, volunteers and staff from Orange County’s SALT program—Seniors and Lawmen Together—gather to share stories, concerns, and to problem solve about older adults aging in their Orange County community. The group of Orange County 25 or so resident volunteers visit over 200, often isolated, older adults in Orange County each week. Many of the people they visit have limited mobility and resources, and live in rural parts of Orange County where services are more difficult to access and visitors and neighbors may be few and far between.

The SALT program is supported by the Orange County Department on Aging and the Sheriff’s Office. Archie Daniel, semi-retired Captain, provides leadership to SALT.  Volunteer members include a retired pharmacist, several retired public sector employees, retired nurses, local handymen, and many others. When the group of volunteers gathers to share stories and problem-solve for the needs of the residents that they visit each week, amazing things happen. In addition to building community through friendly visits, the group connects them with appropriate community resources, identifies accessibility and safety changes that can be made to the homes of the residents they visit, and organizes labor to ensure residents get the changes they need to stay safe and comfortable at home.


SALT Volunteers at a bimonthly meeting.

The work that SALT volunteers do is a shining example of what it means to be part of a community. These unsung heroes are quietly doing the work that makes Orange County a great place to live for people of all ages and circumstances. To learn more about the SALT program and other volunteer opportunities in Orange County dedicated to improving quality of life for older adults, click here.

Beyond Clinic Walls Kicks Off New Year


In early September, UNC undergraduate and graduate students from 10 disciplines gathered at the auditorium in the School of Social Work for an informational meeting to learn about Beyond Clinic Walls. The Partnerships in Aging Program is joined by Carol Woods Retirement Community, UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition, and Orange County’s Department on Aging to support this service-learning program. Beyond Clinic Walls matches teams of 6-8 UNC students with older adults or young children with complex social and healthcare needs living in Chapel Hill and Orange County. Teams meet with their client each month throughout the academic year, getting to know their clients as people, not cases, and giving students insight into the gaps in services and challenges that many people face. Kelly Richardson, student in the School of Pharmacy is the Program Director. The program is coordinated by Elizabeth Hart, an Occupational Therapist and former Beyond Clinic Walls participant.


On Sept. 19, the official kick-off meeting was hosted at Carol Woods Retirement Community. The event brought over 80 UNC students together with 10 senior mentors for an evening of asking tough questions about why aging is so often associated with loss and decline in our society. Student teams are connected with their clients and will start their monthly meetings soon. The Partnerships in Aging Program is excited to provide leadership for this interdisciplinary project.  We expect Beyond Clinic Walls to inspire the next generation of practitioners to think holistically about aging, redefining elderhood as a time for growth and giving back.

Arts and Aging: Bringing Local Leaders Together

As the Partnerships in Aging Program advances a new narrative about aging and what it means to be an older person, art and creativity-centered activities have become a core component of its programming. This summer, the artists shown below gathered with Director, Cherie Rosemond, to connect with one another and build enthusiasm for programs and events at the nexus of aging and art. Creating art, no matter the medium, provides opportunities for connection to others, connection to self, and personal exploration.

We are very excited to bring together a group of people as deeply passionate as we are about creating a community in which every age is celebrated. Our group is comprised of artists from many disciplines, including photography, fashion, theater, film, radio and visual arts.

PiAP Art Meeting Photo

Pictured from left to right:

Lee Anne McClymont: Director/Producer of Courage Cocktail Radio Show. With funding from the Partnerships in Aging Program, Lee Ann is producing a 5 part radio series entitled:  Long Lives Long View. Click here to visit the show’s website

Sue Coppola: UNC professor in Occupational Therapy/Science – Sue uses literature in her classes to promote student’s understanding of “occupation” in later life

Chris Adamczyk: photographer – Sponsored in part by The Partnerships in Aging Program, Chris is developing an exhibit for display at local venues called Living Long Lives. Click here to learn more about the Living Long Lives program

Bolton Anthony: Bolton is an aficionado of film. He uses film to spark discussions about later life. Bolton is the founder of Second Journey. Click here to learn more about Second Journey

Amy Elliott: Amy is the founder of Acting is Awesome. This fall, Amy will introduce Play Back Theater for older adults through the Ollie Program. Click here to learn more about Acting is Awesome

Morgan Adams: Inspired by Gene Cohen’s work on Creative Aging, Morgan is developing art programs for elders living in congregate housing.

Deb Suchoff: Deb is a Project Engage graduate who has been inspired to use her artistic talents to offer new programs at local Senior Centers. Click here to learn more about Project Engage

Cherie Rosemond: Director, Partnerships in Aging, is a dancer and loves to create beauty using second hand “stuff.”