year 2, week 19:  this week i'm gonna... support the elderly and disabled


Yvonne with her home garden

Yvonne with her home garden

Yvonne used to love gardening outside when she was younger. Now, she has difficulty bending down and digging dirt. The long Boston winters keep her inside, and like many elders, Yvonne suffers from mild depression.

Studies by the Center for Disease Control estimate that 7 million American adults over the age of 65 experience depression each year. Ethos, a nonprofit that promotes the independence, dignity, and well-being of the elderly and disabled, is working to combat depression in Boston area seniors. 

Yvonne was referred to Ethos' Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression, Empowering Activities for Seniors) to ease her mild depression and was paired up with Elissa, a program intern. While getting to know each other, Elissa learned about Yvonne's passion for gardening, and she decided to help Yvonne plant a small garden in her own home.

The process of creating an indoor garden presented many obstacles, such as finding the adequate balance of water and sunlight, but each of these challenges presented a new goal to work towards for the following week.

“I love having a garden indoors and I look forward to my weekly visits with Elissa!” Yvonne states.


Ethos was founded in 1973 to create an alternative to prevailing
institutional models of care, which they believed robbed the elderly and disabled of their autonomy and disconnected them from social and community life. Ethos is committed to the independence, dignity, and wellbeing of elders and the disabled, and strives to keep them living in their own homes.
They offer a wide range of high-quality, discounted services and support, delivered at home and in the community. In all aspects of its work, Ethos supports family caregiving, fosters social interaction, and respects cultural diversity. 

Many of Ethos' early pilot programs are now standard offerings across the nation. These include: paratransit services, home-delivered meals, home care, case management, crisis intervention, and culturally appropriate services and programs (such as money management and nutrition, among others). More recent initiatives include developing services tailored for LGBT elders, promoting healthy aging through evidence-based trainings, organizing age-friendly communities, and facilitating peer-based solutions for aging in place.

Ethos serves over 3,000 individuals and families in Boston area neighborhoods. Please watch the video below to see more about Ethos and some of their programs.

A volunteer shovels snow for an elderly neighbor

A volunteer shovels snow for an elderly neighbor

Ethos has many standard programs to serve seniors, including the Boston Money Management Program for support with managing home finances and Tai Chi classes to help prevent falls. Ethos also organizes Snow Angels, a program that pairs willing snow shovelers with those who could use a hand in winter. 

In addition to their traditional programs, they are also breaking new ground with the Ethos Equality Fund, the Boston area’s first fund solely dedicated to supporting aging lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs). LGBT elders are among the most vulnerable older adults and are much less likely to have the traditional supports that others depend on as they age: spouses, children, and other relatives. 

A group of Ethos LGBTs and their friends enjoy a night out

A group of Ethos LGBTs and their friends enjoy a night out

Launched in 2012, The Ethos Equality Fund sponsors the Senior Pride Luncheon every year, as well as other weekly brunches and dinners for senior LGBTs and their friends. These events provide safe, affirming environments for LGBT seniors to make friends, strengthen their support circles, and rebuild resiliency.

In June 2016, more than 250 LGBT elders attended the annual Senior Pride Luncheon. Dale Mitchell, executive director of Ethos, led the attendees in a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shootings. It was a somber moment, after which he told the crowd, “Hate scars ... are permanent, but the best revenge against bigotry, hatred, and violence is love, laughter, and PRIDE." The group then circulated a condolence book to send messages of love and support to the LGBT community of Orlando.

Notes for this week:

  • May 14th is Mother's Day (don't forget to call your mom!) and May is Older Americans Month.
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor Tai Chi classes for seniors.
  • For more information regarding Ethos, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to Ethos.

please share the givetwig awesomeness!