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AARP will designate Westchester County as one of the first seven “AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities” nationwide for its commitment and multiyear plan to improve the quality of life for seniors at the 21st annual Golden Harvest Breakfast Awards on Oct. 4 at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown.

Abigail Kirsch is at 81 Highland Ave. off Benedict Avenue. Registration starts at 8 a.m.

The recognition is a tribute to Westchester’s Livable Communities initiative, whose goal is to enable seniors to age in their homes with dignity, independence and civic involvement. The initiative is the signature project of the county’s Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS), which it developed with AARP and the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services (WPPP).

Because AARP is an institutional affiliate of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities, Westchester County’s gains access to a variety of WHO’s successful age-friendly strategies, planning tools and other resources. WHO is the special agency of the United Nations that deals with international public health issues. Representatives from AARP and WHO will attend the breakfast.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino said that the designation from AARP and WHO recognizes that the county  is a national trailblazer in  preparing for the needs of the growing number of mature adults both today and in coming decades.

“This is a great honor for Westchester,” Astorino said.  “It gives us even more momentum to continue our work. In addition, the business opportunities to serve the needs of an aging population will benefit all county residents, not just seniors.” 

DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter said that Senior Programs and Services has received many requests from municipalities across the United States and abroad asking for information to replicate the county’s  Livable Communities program in their own locations.

“It’s so gratifying to empower seniors and the communities to prepare for the growing number of older adults and jointly be ready to meet their needs,” she said.

In another part of the breakfast program, three leaders and one corporation from Westchester will receive Golden Harvest Awards from the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services (WPPP) in recognition of their outstanding and lasting contributions to seniors. The WPPP is a coalition of government, business and voluntary service agencies that develops resources and services to help seniors remain independent and active members of the community.  

Rosa Kittrell Barksdale, a Mount Vernon resident and president and chief executive officer of Barksdale Home Care Services Corp., will receive the Golden Harvest Humanitarian Award.

Barksdale Home Care is a licensed home care agency that is based in Pelham, and employs registered nurses and companions as well as home health and personal care aides. It is one of Westchester’s largest minority employers of minority employees and one of the largest agencies of its kind in Westchester that is owned and operated by a woman. 

Rosa Barksdale has a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle.   Her career path has taken her to positions as a nurse, drug abuse counselor and health teacher for the New York City Board of Education and as a sales representative for Abbott Laboratories.She has received many honors for her business and community leadership, including the Westchester Community Opportunity Program Corporate Achievement Award, the Women in Business Award from the White Plains YWCA and the Westchester County Business Person of the Year citation from the African-American Chamber of Commerce.

William T. Smith, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Aging in America, will receive the Golden Harvest Distinguished Service Award. Aging in America is the parent corporation of  several nonprofit, nonsectarian agencies, which provide services to seniors and their families in the Westchester region such as Morningside at Home in the Bronx.

Smith, who lives in Bedford Corners, has been in social work field since 1971, and his last 35 years have been dedicated to gerontology. He is chair of the board of Dominican Sisters Family Health Services, an assistant professor of public health administration at Pace University and an adjunct professor in the School of Social Services at Fordham University.

He is a former executive director and chief executive officer of the St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry and past chair of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

The Collaborative for Palliative Care will receive the Golden Harvest Corporate Award. The collaborative is a nonprofit, community-based organization that works to improve care of seriously ill people through education, research and advocacy in palliative and end-of-life care.

Mary Beth Morrissey, Esq., Ph.D., MPH of  White Plains is the founder and president of the collaborative.  She is recognized nationally as a health care attorney and social science researcher. She is affiliated with Fordham University, and focuses her practice on areas of health law, social work and ethics.

Morrissey’s law degree and Ph.D. are from Fordham and her MPH degree is from the New York Medical College School of Public Health. She lectures and writes frequently on mental health policy and public health law.  She was lead editor of the spring issue of the N.Y. State Bar Association’s Health Law Journal.

Robert Waldman of Larchmont, a co-founder of The Center for Aging in Place, will receive the Golden Harvest Jim Curran Leadership Award. The center is part of a national movement to enable seniors to remain in their homes as they age by making social support, health care and home maintenance services available.

Westchester County’s Livable Communities initiative has the same goal. However, the county program is publicly funded whereas the Center for Aging in Place programs are funded by its members.

Prior to his retirement, Waldman held management positions in actuarial science and information technology with Insurance Services Office and General Reinsurance Corp.  He is a former board member of the Volunteer Center of United Way and a past chair of its RSVP (formerly the center’s Retired Senior Volunteer Program) Advisory Committee.  He graduated from Columbia University and Pace’s Lubin School of Business.

Rita C. Mabli, president and chief executive officer of United Hebrew of New Rochelle is chair of the Public/Private Partnership.

Advertisements are now being accepted for the “Senior Services Directory of Westchester Public and Private Resources,” which will be distributed at the breakfast.  The directory is a marketing tool for advertisers to showcase their products and services to more than 2,000 seniors and their families.  It is published by the WPPP and proceeds benefit DSPS. The directory is also distributed to senior centers, local businesses and other locations.  Information about the event and the costs for four levels of sponsorship are posted at www.westchestergov.com/seniors

Individual tickets are $100.   The deadline for journal ads has been extended to Sept. 17, and the deadline for ticket purchases has been extended to Sept. 28.  For more information, call (914) 813-6435.  


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