On Lok Partners with Openhouse to Celebrate PRIDE Month


Openhouse + On Lok Community Day Services Offers In-Community Support to LGBTQ+ Seniors 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — During the month of PRIDE, On Lok recognizes the impact LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history, locally and around the world, and proudly supports the rights of the community to age with dignity. On Lok teams have participated and volunteered with Openhouse to support various PRIDE activities throughout the month, including the upcoming San Francisco Pride Parade on June 26, where On Lok staff will be walking the parade route.

Since 2018, On Lok has partnered with Openhouse, joining forces to create Openhouse + On Lok Community Day Services (Community Day), a safe and life-affirming space for LGTBQ+ seniors to maintain independence while receiving culturally sensitive and compassionate care.

“Community Day is a multifaceted program designed with and for the community, bringing much-needed services to San Francisco’s growing LGBTQ+ population,” said John Blazek, Executive Director, Day Services, On Lok. “It is a program that has been years in the making, bringing together the connection between Openhouse and the LGBTQ+ older adult community, with On Lok’s deep roots in community-based senior care and support.”

Community Day officially opened its doors in December 2021 and provides social connection and fun LGBTQ+-themed activities, in a state-of-the-art center full of natural light and community pride. Additionally, staff help seniors with personal care reminders and coordinate services, as well as provide transportation to and from the program, as needed, and hot midday meals, snacks, and refreshments are provided daily. “We envisioned a space where community members engage in activities, eat a hot meal together, and then go home, back to their partners and families, and Community Day is achieving that vision,” added Blazek.

LGTBQ+ seniors face loneliness and isolation due to lack of community and health support and financial insecurity, and fear discrimination and mistreatment in institutionalized settings. According to a 2011 study published by the National Senior Citizens Law Center, 78% felt it would be unsafe for an LGBTQ+ senior to be “out” in a care facility and 80% believed staff and other residents would discriminate against an LGBTQ+ elder who was out of the closet. While 43% reported personally witnessing or knowing individuals who experienced instances of mistreatment.

Aging can be a vulnerable experience. As LGBTQ+ persons age, they don’t want to feel as if they need to hide who they are or their life experiences. Staff members at Community Day have first-hand experience of the challenges and adversities in navigating medical care and other services, either for or as, an LGBTQ+ person. “The Community Day staff are eager to serve the older members of our LGBTQ+ community. It’s a rare opportunity to become the figurative children that can provide respite to our elders’ partners and loved ones, who are often neglected by the system,” said Ephraim Getahun

, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Training, Openhouse.

As part of its commitment to reduce barriers to healthcare access across vulnerable populations, On Lok has been pursuing certification for Community Day to become an alternative care setting (ACS) for its On Lok PACE program. In May, Community Day received this certification. Alternative care settings are a physical facility, other than the participant’s place of residence, where PACE participants can receive some required services, such as activities, meals, and socializing. On Lok has a history of supporting vulnerable populations by creating alternative care settings with partners in the community. For the city’s LGBTQ seniors that means enrolling in On Lok PACE, a full service healthcare program, will also include the choice to attend Openhouse + On Lok Community Day Services.

For more information about Community Day contact Ephraim Getahun via email at egetahun@openhousesf.org or call 415-535-0927. For more information about On Lok PACE eligibility call 855-973-1110 (TTY: 711).

About On Lok

On Lok is a nonprofit organization that empowers older adults to age with dignity and independence. With 50 years of experience, On Lok is a trusted resource in San Francisco, Santa Clara County, and the Tri-City area of Alameda County. On Lok founded and still operates the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allows eligible seniors to live at home for as long as possible by providing comprehensive medical care and social services. On Lok 30th Street Senior Center, the largest multipurpose senior center in San Francisco, provides a second home, health programs, activities, and case management services to active seniors. The On Lok Mission Nutrition Program provides more than 250,000 meals annually to seniors through its dining locations and meal delivery program. For more information, please visit www.onlok.org.

About Openhouse

Openhouse enables San Francisco Bay Area LGBTQ+ seniors to overcome the unique challenges they face as they age by providing housing, direct services, and community programs. Founded in 1998, works to center the voices and experiences of LGBTQ+ older adults by providing opportunities to make social connections and build community. We are committed to creating a safe environment to encourage and support community members to share our diverse perspectives and identities to foster dynamic community engagement. We recognize and affirm that LGBTQ+ older adults live at intersections of race, ethnicity, class, culture, HIV status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, spirituality, and ability. At Openhouse, everyone is a community member.

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