Spirit of Aging:Resiliency through Conscious Aging

Spirit of Aging:Resiliency through Conscious Aging

Crowdfunding Completed: November 4, 2017

Amount Funded: $0

Project Owner: Humboldt UU Felowship

Short Description of Project

HUUF is sponsoring 'The Spirit of Aging' workshop for interfaith congregations to develop a resiliency and conscious aging network in Humboldt County.

How was this project connected to UU?

The Humboldt Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, a rural small UU congregation is aging. This last year Rev. Bryan Jessup has led an ‘Aging with Grace’ Religious Education course, and Dr.Garfield and Dr. Belton led a day workshop on ‘The Spirit of Aging’ for a small group in May at HUUF. Attendees asked for more. HUUF participates with True North/PICO organizing, and has a large reach into the interfaith community. Talking among the Elder Caucus of True North, all congregations are facing increasingly aging congregations, and most religious leaders have not been trained in conscious aging. HUUF, as sponsor of the ‘Spirit of Aging’ interfaith workshop intends for this workshop to act as a hub of support between interfaith congregations in this very rural area. Dr. Garfield is a professor at Starr King School for the Ministry. His book will also be made available at registration. The impact on both the HUUF congregation, and the connections with similar challenges to the well-being of elders in other faith traditions, and the raising of palliative practices to aging populations is a gift to our wider community. Support for the facilitators, and development of ongoing support for this hub model of social support for aging rural residents will deeply impact the peace and grace of aging and dying. This population within interfaith communities and the LGBTQI community, is often ignored, and HUUF can offer this to the community in an inclusive way is critical. Support from Faithify will assure coverage of costs of the workshop, and make the workshop available to other UU congregations on the west coast.

Full Description of Project

The Goal of the ‘Spirit of Aging’ Workshop is to establish ongoing elder workshops in Humboldt County. The workshops will address preparing interfaith communities to address aging issues: mental, physical and spiritual and create a network of support between faith communities, the LBGTQI communities, and Humboldt County. Over 20% of Humboldt County people are aged 65 and older, and the percent is growing with the rapid aging of the baby boomer generation.

Aging in our society can be immersed in fear and anxiety impacting mental, physical, and spiritual health. Challenges in our universal experience (we all will get old), invites the need for aging adults to explore this important life stage with compassion and creativity, for opportunities toward emotional, psychological and spiritual growth which promote mental health and wellness. Research has shown that senior adults are seeking support and counsel for guidance, connection, and community, in an effort to strengthen themselves for an aging life of meaning making and purpose.

This weekend retreat specifically designed for aging populations in a rural community, will invite senior adult participants and those who care for senior populations, to examine their current capacities in ways that will support them in becoming more balanced, intentional about their aging, develop skills for coping with impermanence and change, and cultivate a sense of calm and curiosity in the presence of death and dying. The initial workshop ‘In the Spirit of Aging: A Series in Community Dialogue Promoting the Mental Health and Wellness of Aging Populations in Rural Communities’ will be held on Saturday October 28, 2017 from 10:00am to 4:30pm. Light snacks and lunch will be provided by Redwood Palliative and HUUF. Media outreach and enrollment will begin Oct 4. This will include interfaith engagement through True North Elder Caucus, invitation to congregations, ministers, and service organizations working with the elderly. Outreach to include LBGTQI community is high priority.

Co-facilitator Dr. Gina Belton PhD lives and works in Arcata in private practice at Redwood Palliative Psychology and specializes in promoting educational opportunities toward greater understanding of aging, dying and death among lay persons and professionals. For the sake of tending to soul in the world, this work in community endeavors that each member of society can achieve a more satisfying life and personal acceptance of death. Dr. Charlie Garfield PhD serves as Clinical Professor of Psychology /Department of Psychiatry at the University Of California School Of Medicine at San Francisco (UCSF) and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Garfield is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He has been recognized internationally as the founder of Shanti, which has been at the forefront of a growing national movement to enhance the quality of life for persons living with life-threatening or chronic illnesses by providing volunteer-based emotional and practical support. This unique consultant collaboration developed this community workshop series with Humboldt’s rural aging population in mind. HUUF has hosted a brief workshop in the May 2017, and all attending asked for expanding the workshop to include a wider community. The balanced facilitation that combines best practices and experiential learning is excellent, Their communication techniques are personal and professional; their ability to elicit individual and group learning and practice forms the basis of ongoing personal development and group support. Included in the registration fee will be Dr. Garfield’s newest book ‘Life’s Last Gift, Giving and receiving Peace when a loved one is dying’ (additional copies are also available for purchase). Dr. Belton PhD lives and works in Arcata, and will be available to the participants and their groups/congregations as they extend the workshop’s results with follow up on the community dialogue series on the spirit of aging in various faith and secular groups in Humboldt County. A qualitative and quantitative evaluation will be developed by the facilitators.

Follow up with participant groups will be facilitated by Dr. Belton PhD, along with a list-serve as a support for ‘Spirit of Aging’ attendees as they introduce the workshop to their communities and congregations. CEU’s for nurses are available through St. Joseph’s Hospital
HUUF is committed to supporting healthy aging within our congregation, and have been asked to share the Spirit of Aging with our interfaith neighbors and the LBGTQI aging community. We are fortunate to have a space to share, and the community engagement to share this workshop and be the HUB for training other congregations to support healthy mental, physical and spiritual health as people age in this isolated, rural corner of California. HUUF is appreciative of your support!