To enhance the well-being of our oldest community members through free-of-charge services offered by a corps of dedicated volunteers, expand community care models nationally, and raise the public visibility of ways to honor and care for the elderly.
LiLY was founded in 2009 at a time when the population of frail elderly people living alone began to mushroom. The organization’s founder, Irene Zola, has led this unique thriving community-based elder-care initiative, Morningside Village, to national recognition with a 2010 CNN Hero award and 2012 AARP Inspire Award. The free-of-charge “village” model connects elders to their community, to needed services, and to lasting friendships. And since then, LiLY has continued to expand its vital work.
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- LiLY’s Morningside Village program provides neighborly care and services to elders through a corps of trained and dedicated volunteers and social work staff in Morningside Heights and West Harlem. Mrs. H.’s experience makes for a good example of how we are responding to the critical needs of our neighbors. She contacted her volunteer during an episode of heart failure. He called 911 and was there to comfort Mrs. H. and to talk with the EMS team, to accompany the elder in ambulance, through the hours until admission to ICU, and well beyond until her family arrived from Virginia. When after a week the elder recovered and returned home, volunteers were there, helping with shopping, accompanying her to doctors’ appointments and getting her through a difficult time. LiLY is also mentoring groups from the Catskill Mountains in New York to Solano County in California.
- Increase the visibility and recognition of the very old in our communities through media: LiLY works with partners to create messages in public spaces, on screen and off, that aim to help transform the culture where Ageism too often translates into misery for a nonagenarian in want of friends and care. Through its October 1st Initiative, Love An Elder Day, LiLY has been able to increase volunteerism in neighborhoods nationally.