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How the White House Commemorated Grandparents Day

by Published On: Sep 17, 2012
Generations United at the White House
Larry Minnix, Donna Butts, and Jon Carson

On Sept. 13, the White House commemorated Grandparents Day with a formal ceremony and multi-panel presentation organized by Generations United.

The agenda included 2 panels (one on service and education, and the other on caregiving), plus opening and closing remarks. In addition, printed proclamations from the president acknowledging the holiday were provided to attendees. 

Overall, the speakers focused on the importance of intergenerational programs and policies that allow for ease of caregiving and intergenerational volunteerism. The event stressed the interconnectivity between generations; as Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, noted, "Grandparents lay the foundation of success for future generations." Whether it's a situation where grandchildren are helping their parents provide care and support for their grandparents, or grandparents raising their grandchildren, the benefits of the generations working together are innumerable.

When the floor was open for questions after the first panel, Larry Minnix, president and CEO of LeadingAge, stood up and asked the following: "How can we improve our advocacy efforts on behalf of intergenerational programs and policies?" 

Mark Shriver, senior vice president of U.S. programs for Save the Children, answered by saying, "We must check in, not check out." He elaborated by saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, meaning that senior advocates must be relentless and vocal about the change we wish to see. He ended with an inspiring quote from Margaret Mead (whose daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, addressed the audience later): "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." 

These are words for us to live by, especially when it comes to standing up for the programs that will benefit seniors, even in the face of adversity.

The rest of the agenda was as follows:

Welcome and Greeting

  • Jon Carson, director, White house Office of Public Engagement.
  • Cecilia Muñoz, director, White house Domestic Policy Council.

Service and Education Panel

  • Moderator: Donna Butts, executive director, Generations United.
  • Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps, Corporation for National and Community Service.
  • Khari Eyen Zame, youth entrepreneur.
  • Michael Robbins, senior adviser for Nonprofit Partnerships Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Education.
  • Mark Shriver, senior vice president of U.S. Programs, Save the Children.

Caregiving Panel

  • Moderator: Bryan Samuels, commissioner of Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Edwin Walker, deputy assistant secretary for Program Operations, Administration on Aging.
  • Pam Smith, director of Aging and Independence Services, County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency.
  • Janet Flemings, community participant.
  • Michael Owens, community participant.

Closing Remarks

  • Mary Catherine Bateson, national co-chair for Seniors4Kids.
  • Joan Lombardi, national co-chair for Seniors4Kids.

 



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