"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new" – Socrates
In 2020, with Deborah Gauvreau as the driving force, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) seeded the creation of what a group of committed volunteers wanted – a village in Sarasota.
After reading Rich Harwood's book Stepping Forward: A Positive Practical Path to Transform Our Communities and Our Lives, Deborah's book circle decided to step forward and form a village to strengthen ties, encourage healthier lifestyles, and promote socialization. Regardless of where we are on the aging spectrum – whether a newborn or an older adult – it takes a village to age.
As networks of members and aligned organizations, villages support people as they age by providing recreational, social, educational, and cultural programs and services. They promote healthy living, neighbor-to-neighbor support, and community connectivity.
Efforts to create a Sarasota Village later evolved when it became clear that an overarching hub organization was needed to support the sustainability and development of villages in Florida, so UPLIFT Florida Network (UPLIFT) was formed.
Three years later, TPF's engagement with UPLIFT sunsets, but UPLIFT's important work continues under the leadership of its board of directors. To celebrate UPLIFT's work thus far and the possibilities ahead, TPF held a celebratory lunch on June 20, 2023.
During the lunch, I was proud to share UPLIFT's first-ever impact report – UPLIFT Florida Network: The Journey to Date 2020–2023 (You can find a condensed version here). Generously underwritten by TPF, the impact report narrates the past three years' findings, learnings, and reflections.
To bring the report to life, a 10-part mini docuseries was produced to share UPLIFT's journey in the words of those who have committed an immense amount of time and talent toward its innovative approach. You can glimpse experiences from UPLIFT's leadership team as they narrate the journey here.
As people live longer, there are many opportunities to develop forward-thinking models of community care that promote health and well-being and prevent illness and injury. UPLIFT's approach to creating a statewide hub has the opportunity to strengthen the village moment in Florida and support many more older adults in aging in place.
TPF is proud to have been a catalyst for this work and will continue to laud with excitement and pride as UPLIFT works toward advancing its mission and achieving its aspirations.