Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lifelong Communities: MANA and Emory School of Public Health team up

from v 31, Medlock Matters

By Kathryn Firago

MANA and School of Public Health team
Last August, many of our neighbors aged 50+ took a survey to help the Lifelong Communities committee understand the needs and wants of this population. Once we had those responses, we had the good fortune of having the Emory School of Public Health provide qualified students in its degree program to analyze the responses and make suggestions to us based on their importance to the community and feasibility of implementation. These young women did us a great service and, by working with our community, each earned an A in their Community Needs Assessment course! The students held focus groups, interviewed key members of the Medlock and Clairmont Heights neighborhoods and researched possible partnerships we could make with other organizations and businesses. Following are some of the items on the plan they have provided to us. The committee has yet to meet in 2014 to discuss this plan in its entirety, but that is scheduled later in February.

Create a Community Buddy System – This is something that many of our neighbors are already doing, but it could be more intentional. Neighbors who would like to volunteer to check in on other neighbors’ safety and well being could be matched with ones who would like to have the contact, be
it weekly or some other time frame. It would be a win-win situation for both. This could aid in elderly neighbors not only getting basic needs met, but also in satisfying social needs for them.
Institute Informal Social Gatherings – Arrange potlucks, walking groups, meet-ups at Melton’s or a local restaurant. Form a knitting group, quilting group, and book club. These could happen frequently and could possibly be hosted by the North Decatur Presbyterian Church as the pastor there has offered to work with MANA more often.

Utilize Facebook and other social networks – This could facilitate more immediate networking and announcements. Meetings for Neighborhood Watch, community meetings and the aforementioned informal gatherings could be publicized not only on the Medlock neighborhood website but also on Nextdoor and Facebook. There could be a service-bartering page to offer and request services, such as yard work, housework, babysitting or pet-sitting. This is another way to connect our neighbors to each other in a more personal way.

Use the Dekalb County Public Library Takeout Service – There is a “Savvy Senior” program that includes book discussion groups, a film series, seasonal tax assistance and volunteer opportunities. A library administrator could travel to our neighborhood to conduct workshops on topics of interest such as coping with diabetes, heart disease, and training in computer use.

These are just a few of the suggestions made by the Emory students. We have many to consider and attempt to implement. If you would like to be a part of this Lifelong Communities committee and start making some of these possibilities a reality, please get in touch with Lynn, Deb, Kathryn or Suzan via