Category: News

Living and Learning in Northside

UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program has been collaborating with the Marian Cheek Jackson Center to create a living-learning home in Chapel Hill’s Northside Neighborhood.  The goal of the living-learning experience, called the Northside Residential Fellowship (NRF) is to create opportunities for UNC students and recent graduates to honor, renew, and build community with their older neighbors while renting in Northside. Through program activities, NRF fellows live, work, and play alongside their neighbors; creating opportunities to build lasting relationships.

To understand the importance of participating in this fellowship, one must know the history of the neighborhood.  Northside is a historically Black neighborhood in Chapel Hill whose residents live and die by the mandate to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” However, in recent years, Northside has experienced “studentification,” marked by a shift from a predominance of single-family owned homes to a predominance of rental properties shared by college students.  This process has in many cases disrupted the sense of community in Northside. Residents express seeing a changing neighborhood that is not “for them,” — one in which social integration and community engagement are threatened.

The living-learning household creates a space for young adults to become active members of the Northside community and re-establish a multigenerational space where all residents feel supported.  The NRF envisions a neighborhood where the history of Northside is honored and valued. We see a neighborhood where every age is celebrated and supported and where elderhood is viewed as a time for continued adaptation, growth, and contribution.

Northside fellows recently hosted their first “Porch Revival Tour Pop-Up.” Photo credit: Adele Henderson.

The pilot program became official when three young adults signed leases and moved into their new home in August 2018.  With a bit of nervousness and a lot of excitement, the fellows made a community agreement and began orientations to become grounded in the history of the Northside community. Just a few months in, NRF program activities are now in full swing.  Fellows have made service commitments at Habitat for Humanity, Heavenly Groceries, and volunteered their time at other Northside events.  Most notably, they hosted their first “Porch Revival Tour Pop-up” in September 2018. With support from the Jackson Center, the Porch Revival Tour is an ongoing seriesof neighbor-hosted events designed to create intimate space for the community to reconnect, relax, and reawaken the togetherness that sometimes dissipates with the busyness of today’s world. The NRF Porch Pop-Up was attended by neighbors, students, and friends from infancy to 85 years old. As the evening unfolded, community members and friends enjoyed eating pizza, sharing stories, and welcoming each other into the community. One fellow provided the following reflection:

It was refreshing to see the dialogues between students and longtime residents, teenagers and elders, known neighbors and newly-introduced neighbors, and any other group represented in Northside take place on our front yard that evening. Despite negativity and divisiveness in our world, there are beacons of love, hope, and civility within our country; beacons that cast light help us find ways to acknowledge and celebrate our differences. What took place in our yard for those two hours on a September evening convinces me that such a beacon exists right here in Chapel Hill–in Northside.”

This reflection represents one of the core values of the NRF.  We are a community.  We are a group of people living together within a greater society.  We actively participate in the community. We take the time to learn about each other, our neighborhood, and our neighbors.  This is not just where we live, but who we are.

Northside fellows are continuing with orientations and have many ideas for future events and relationship building.  They plan to visit the Charles House, a model of residential and day care for older adults to receive support services.  They are busy planning a multigenerational game night in order to meet more neighbors and become more integrated into the fabric of the community.  Although the program is a work in progress, the spirit of neighborhood and reciprocal relationships is felt by the fellows and their neighbors.  Northside is starting to feel like home.

FEAST: Folks of Every Age Sharing a Table

On the evening of April 25, eleven people made their way through the bloom-filled walkways at the Botanical Gardens into a room holding a colorful table set for a dinner party. These men and women, ranging in age from 22 to 87 years old, were not attending just any dinner party. They were guests at the inaugural FEAST gathering.  FEAST is part of a programmatic effort by the Partnerships in Aging Program to create intentional space for intergenerational conversations and connections. In a town where students live, work, and play on campus, and many retirees do the same in their own spaces, this dinner party with a purpose aims to bring the two populations together for one special evening. FEAST fosters connections and encourages meaningful dialog through the sharing of food and guided conversation around a universal topic. The theme for this evening’s FEAST was ‘Celebration.’

FEAST guests at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Carol Gunther-Mohr.

After introductions and informal conversation, the guests were asked to share a story or two about a memorable celebration. The conversation wound its way through jubilant stories of travel and weddings to a touching tale of a music-filled 50th anniversary gathering. Though the stories were vastly different, themes of family, joy, and the congregating of loved ones emerged. One guest told of her 1,200-mile canoe trip taken when journeys were made with paper maps and compasses.  Several guests shared reflections on the way celebrations can be woven into events typically associated with grief or courage. We heard about memorial services, remembrance traditions, and coming out.  Story after story about celebrations of love and loss opened a window into the memory of another person around the table until, much too soon, the evening came to an end. Tearful hugs were exchanged and genuine invitations to join groups and swap recipes wafted through the crisp night air as the guests slowly made their way back through the moonlit gardens.

The table, now empty, will be set again in the fall when FEAST officially embarks on its unique, dynamic, and delicious intergenerational journey with Folks of Every Age who want to Share the Table.

Downsizing and Decluttering: The Organizing Extravaganza, Part 2

When it comes to decluttering, there’s often a gap between thinking about it and doing it.  To address this gap, Orange County Department of Aging hosted an event that made it easier for community members to take action on their decluttering goals.

On November 18, the Department hosted part 2 of “The Organizing Extravaganza” at the Seymour Center.   At the event, community members unloaded their excess papers, sharpened their eye for what’s valuable, and obtained sound advice about how to downsize… liberating them from their stuff!  The event was created by an interdisciplinary planning team that included leaders from the Department on Aging, Charles House Association, UNC’s Partnerships in Aging Program, a Planning consultant, and an intern from UNC’s School of Social Work.

The event invited Shred Ace (a shredder truck), appraisers, professional organizers, senior-focused moving companies, and real estate agents specializing in senior housing to provide invaluable decluttering guidance and resources. For a full list of exhibitors, check out the list here.

Community member dumping paper for shredding. Photo credit: Sarah Parkins

Over 100 attendees shared their appreciation for the event, particularly highlighting the importance of the onsite appraisers. Eileen Dawson, a community member, states that the she had been meaning to have items appraised before making decluttering decisions. The event allowed Eileen “the opportunity to get a thumbs up, thumbs down answer” on the value of her belongings.  Another community member, Cindy Gaines, said the organizing extravaganza allowed her to “confirm that the stuff that none of the kids want isn’t worth anything.”  As a result, the event gave Cindy the confirmation to “continue decluttering and getting rid of our stuff”.

Leland Little Auctions. Photo credit: Sarah Parkins

Alice Barrow also shared a similar sentiment, stating that she was motivated to go through old documents and get rid of the excess.  Then, for the fun of it, she brought on old clock to be valued by the LeLand Little appraisers.

Matt Murley of Shred Ace described an additional benefit of the Extravaganza: saving trees. He shares that Shred Ace “shredded and recycled 4,220 lbs. of paper at the event, which is 2.11 tons of paper.  For every ton of paper recycled, 17 trees are saved, so [the] event saved 36 trees!”

The Department of Aging understands how downsizing and decluttering is an ongoing effort that doesn’t stop after one event. However, the Organizing Extravaganza was just one of many resources to help seniors take control of their lives and their stuff, one step at a time.

Prep to Sell. Photo credit: Sarah Parkins


Orange County Solid Waste Management Department. Photo credit: Sarah Parkins

Decluttering and Regaining Control of your Life: The Organizing Extravaganza, Part 1

How do we get rid of our clutter and retake control of our lives?

Your documents: What to save? How long do you save it? What do you toss?

Those questions were explored in Part 1 of “The Organizing Extravaganza”, a two-part event that engages community members in decluttering and downsizing all the stuff in their lives. The Orange County Department of Aging hosted Part 1 on October 9, and featured Keynote speaker Jane Armstrong, MSW along with panel speakers Colin Austin, estate planning attorney, Leland Little, President and Principal Auctioneer of Leland Little Auctions, and Tracy Lynn, senior move associate with Professional Relocation Options.

“This [event] is brilliant! This is the exact conversation we should be having,” says Keri Boyette, a community member in the audience. As a realtor and owner of Prep to Sell—a home staging company—Ms. Boyette intimately knows the importance of decluttering:

“This is a message for all of us. For many who have jobs and kids, decluttering is an afterthought. But when you are a senior adult and health becomes an issue, and you have the time to address it, you are opening Pandora’s box. I was sitting [at the event] thinking so many people in the room may not have thought about this. These are people who had parents who came from the great depression. They learned not to throw things away. It’s not only overwhelming [to downsize], but there’s also a fear that they are going to give something away that’s important.”

Ms. Boyette goes on to explain that Jane Armstrong’s—and the rest of the panel’s—message was that decluttering gives you freedom to do the things you’ve wanted to do all along. Many of the items you have you might not actually need, or have very little to no value. Figuring out what you truly need is what will give you that freedom to downsize.

Part 2 will occur on November 18 at the Seymour Center in Chapel Hill. We’ll have shredder trucks, a food truck, appraisers, professional organizers and movers, plus real estate agents specializing in senior housing all ready to help you accomplish your future life goals.

Audience members at Part 1 of “The Organizing Extravaganza.” Photo credit: Cherie Rosemond.

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 produced a 5-part radio series entitled:  Long Lives Long View.

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 Richman: photographer – Sponsored in part by The Partnerships in Aging Program, Chris is developing an exhibit for display at local venues called Living Long Lives.

Bolton Anthony: Bolton is an aficionado of film. He uses film to spark discussions about later life. Bolton is the founder of 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.

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.

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