Vital Aging Network

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A Critical Point in Our History---A Call to Action!

by Mark Skeie February 15, 2017

If you are a supporter of the Vital Aging Network or are interested in what we do,
please do us the favor of reading this message from start to end. Thank you!

The Vital Aging Network is a fluid grassroots organization with a history of reinventing itself as the needs of people 50+ and the environment surrounding us changes. We have arrived at a crossroads that requires us to take on a new round of invention.


Our mission is to foster self-determination, civic engagement and personal growth for people as they age. We believe that people have the power to have a positive impact on their own lives and to be catalytic leaders in our communities and in society.

Our mission is as timely---and maybe more critical---now as it has ever been. The challenge today is finding the resources ---both financial and human---to continue to provide and expand the excellent programs and services that VAN has delivered over the past 16 years.


Here are some highlights of how we are making a difference:

  • Aging with Gusto helps people to deeply examine their views about aging, create a more positive narrative about what it means to age and make action plans for aging well and for fighting ageism. VAN has led more than 20 sessions with 350+ participants.
  • In 2016, we completed a three-year "alpha" pilot of our Wellness 50+ program. Team members in four communities ---- Alexandria, Hamline Midway, Oakdale and Phillips ---- have done exception work engaging community members in improving health and well-being for themselves and for others in their communities. We are looking forward to establishing "beta" pilots in additional communities in the coming year.
  • More than 300 have completed Evolve: Re-igniting Self & Community. Participants continue to make positive impacts in our communities long after the course completion. We just learned that an idea initiated by Evolve participants ---- partnering with the YMCA on a new community center ---- is being considered by the city of Bloomington.

In the past, we have benefited from a rich blend of funding from national and local foundations, sponsors, fees for services and individual donations. In recent years, and due to a variety of reasons, several of those funding sources have all but disappeared.

A way forward, and how you can help

We are charting a new path for the future with a greater dependence on volunteer leadership, financial contributions from our members, sponsorships and fees for services. We are excited about our future, but we NEED your help.

Here are six ways you can help:

  • Do you know a business, organization or group that would sponsor an Aging with Gusto workshop? We offer community-action workshops (4 to 6 hours in one to three sessions) or a 6-hour CEU workshop. Make a connection for us!
  • Would your community be interested in establishing a Wellness 50+ pilot? All you need is a champion who is willing to help organize, and access to a small amount of community financing for the effort. Let us know and we will follow up.
  • In the past, VAN Forums have been an essential way for us to stay connected. We have lots of ideas for forums but we need a small group of dedicated volunteers to plan and implement forums. Will you volunteer to help?
  • Are you good at the nuts and bolts of an organization? We need administrative help keeping our Quickbooks, creating and distributing our e-Bulletin, organizing events and more. What skills do you have that you can apply to making VAN work?
  • Do you want to be involved at the strategic level? Join the VAN board. Learn about the board member role. Download the application.
  • Maybe you already gave generously to VAN in 2016. If you did, thank you! Even if you haven't in the past, NOW is the time to contribute. No matter how much of our work is covered by volunteers, we have operating costs and we need staff support. Your contributions are critical to our survival. Please contribute today!

We are extremely grateful for your on-going support of the Vital Aging Network and look forward to your generous spirit and participation as we redesign VAN for the coming years.
Be a part of VAN's future---Take action now! Let us know how you can help. Call Mark Skeie at 651-917-4652, or email Julie Roles at



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