Vital Aging Network

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The Why? How? What? of the Vital Aging Network

by Mark Skeie July 24, 2017

Vital Aging Network board members and a small group of additional network members, have spent the last few months examining our mission, looking at structure and programs and preparing for the future.

The group has plenty of know-how and energy and is excited about the enormous potential for VAN. Through our discussions we have reaffirmed the Why? of our work:
•    Help people have full, connected, satisfying lives as they age.
•    Help older adults be a force for good in the world.

How we do that and what we specifically do to achieve our purpose is a little more complex and we are still evaluating the specific elements of our next steps.

quotes_378The planning process put a spotlight on several foundational aspects of our work.

“What VAN is doing in it Wellness 50+ work is innovative and right on target for what we need to be doing to improve health and well being,” according to Cheryl Hermann, retired Vice President of Clinic Operations and Patient Care Services for Allina Health and new Vital Aging Network board member. “It’s different because it is led by community members themselves and leverages and connects with existing community resources rather than duplicating them.”

Pam Hayle, VAN’s chair and Quality Improvement Director at Augustana Care Corporation, noted that fostering civic engagement has been a touchstone for VAN throughout its history. “We live in turbulent times of demographic and political change. Building civic capacity—a person’s ability to discern facts, make judgments and be a part of decision making for the whole—continues to be an important calling for VAN.”

Board member, Maureen Kenney, Director of Aging Services at Wilder Foundation, notes that “Aging with Gusto discussions go right to the core of what VAN is. We are doing our part to normalize aging. It is essential work.”

Pat Wise, retired school business manager and VAN volunteer, pointed out that she is just reaching the point where she is leaving full-time employment. “I have watched VAN’s programs over the years and I love the Evolve program. The need for this kind of thing is growing every day.”

New board member, Elizabeth Meyer, Executive Director Sales & Marketing for Walker Methodist, is excited to bring her marketing expertise to VAN and help get the word out about what we do and why being involved in the VAN network is so important. Seth Boffeli, Communications Director with AARP, also just joined the VAN Board and is already working with us on ways that VAN and AARP can collaborate.

The Vital Aging Network continues to work on developing a sustainable business model and we are excited about the potential for new and continued work that provides education, leadership development and opportunities to connect as we age.


Jackie Chlebeck, Oakdale Wellness 50+ - July 26, 2017
I appreciate VAN's efforts and am honored to be with the Oakdale volunteer Wellness 50+ program. There are many ways to impact the population we target. Another more difficult project would be working with our cities to offer housing that is community-based and driven for and by seniors, which includes retail, exercise, and social aspects of every day living.


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