End of Year Letter



To Our Great Allies, Friends and Colleagues,


It has been an eventful year, and I would like to retell the story of our efforts, to keep you in the loop, and prepare you for our next steps in the coming year.


You may recall we had an opportunity to work with the owner of a large retirement community in Northeast Portland, and present a proposal for the first site for our Aging Artfully Institute.  We met the owner, Dan Steffey, in August 2012, when Sara Garrett of MotiveSpace introduced Dan to Tim Carpenter on our behalf as a potential developer partner for Tim’s efforts here.  After they bonded and established a strong friendship, we shared a great party at Dan’s home welcoming Tim again in December 2012.


Our work with the new Executive Team member, Jeanette Leardi, had become very powerful by spring, since December 2012.  By March, with Gary and myself, we were a well oiled machine.  Jeanette had helped us revamp our Mission Statement, develop a funding plan and prepared us to get the Institute developed.  Jeanette’s powerful contributions to the Institute will be seen soon.  Dan met with us in March to suggest a collaborative effort at his Hazelwood Retirement community.


We were eager for just such a chance, so we deeply studied the needs of the residents and staff there, and researched the potential for a synergistic relationship between our two organizations.  From March through June we developed a proposal which would accomplish both an improvement in the culture at Hazelwood, and also allow us to run a pilot of our Institute.  Despite our efforts, the proposal was not accepted.


We are still working on the next steps of our Institute roll out, but are working on a little shift in strategy.  More on that soon.



In June 2013, we signed an agreement to become a ‘sponsored project’ of Impact NW, a 45 year old umbrella non-profit.  This gives us the systems to develop all of our programs.  In a series of meetings with their leadership, we have explored a variety of funding strategies, and have begun a redesign of our operations.



Our next big Institute effort revolves around a national leader in the senior housing industry, David Freshwater, the founder of both the Watermark Communities organization, and The Freshwater Group.  David has articulated a similar approach to life in retirement as AAI has.  He has his Seven Dimensions of Well Being, and we have our Four Core Values, and the World Health Organization’s Age Friendly City requirements for healthy aging, as well as the lovely ‘Social Determinants of Health’.  I will be meeting this week with the director of one of the Watermark properties, located in Gresham.  We seek to develop our Institute there, in a partnership between their for-profit organization and our non-profit.  I also hope to visit David at his headquarters in Tucson, and propose a strategic partnership.



In August, we assembled a team of Strategic Advisors at the rather auspicious location of Elders in Action.  Those great friends who answered the call were Devon St. Claire, LeRoy Patton, Jay Bloom, Diane Ring, Mark Noonan, Jeanette Leardi and Michele Fiasca.  We reported our progress on the program side of things, and reminded everyone of our decision in December to allow the work of Sara Garrett and Tim Carpenter to proceed on the development front, without the direct involvement of AAI.


In this meeting we were reminded of two primary aspects of our mission which we had put on the back burner.  Mark Noonan asked, ‘What about the arts?  Diane asked, ‘What about low income housing?’ Jay Bloom and Michele Fiasca both had solid suggestions for the development of AAI.



In July, Jeanette felt she had to work harder on her own career and would not be able to continue volunteering as a member of the Executive Team.  Since then, Gary and I have met weekly to further the work, and to establish a new methodology.  When we get an active educational program running, we expect Jeanette to return as a leading staff member.



It is clear that we are at a new threshold.  Our work is becoming more aligned with the national movement to move the aging process to the next level.  Our colleagues are becoming much more invested in our progress now, and we have gained some wonderfully effective advocates.  It is likely that we will soon have a marketable set of programs, and a platform to launch the pilot.  All the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place.


Please let us know what part of our development you can put time into over the next year.  Gary and I have every expectation that we will be moving forward at a quicker pace now.  These areas are: Organizational Development, Board Development, Grant Writing, Program Development, Housing Strategy Development, Institute Operations, Strategic Partner and Sponsor Development, Replication Planning.


Thank you to all of you for helping us get this far.  I have been writing these Progress Letters for four years now.  The progress we have made has been steady, but very slow.  Your continued support is very important to us.  Together we will create that place we have envisioned together.  It is a place where all of us ‘Elder Creatives’ can build a new model of aging well, in community.  The community exists now.  It is in our hearts, and we are already together, and getting stronger.


Our Blessings for a Loving Holiday Season and a Nourishing New Year!


Jim Corcoran

Founder and Chief Relationship Officer

for the AAI Executive Team

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