Laura Newland, director, DC Office of Aging and Community Living
Laura Newland, director, DC Office of Aging and Community Living

Happy New Year! Like every year around this time, I’ve been reflecting on the past 12 months. 2020 was a year unlike any other: a global pandemic, social unrest and injustice, and a slew of other issues that left us all anxious for a fresh start.

With all the challenges came lessons. We learned so much. As an agency, we learned why it’s so important to show up for you—no matter what. It doesn’t matter if you live alone or if you live with family members; if you’re gay or straight; or if you live east or west of the river. It doesn’t matter if there’s a global pandemic that forces us all to wear masks and stay home! No matter what’s happening in the world, in our country, in our city, DACL’s commitment to you does not and will not change.

As a community, we learned that even though we needed to social distance, nobody wants to become socially distant — we need each other. The need for human connection is more important now than it has ever been before. And we’ve learned this from the hundreds of volunteers, of all ages and from all over the region, who’ve contacted our office wanting to call a senior who would be alone over the holidays. We were able to connect 250 seniors to volunteers over the holidays to check-in, chat and build friendships. That’s what Thriving Together means — you’re not alone.

And we’ll continue to expand these intergenerational connections through our annual Cupid’s Kids initiative. In past years, we’ve worked with students at DCPS and Public Charter Schools to create Valentine’s Day cards for our homebound seniors. This year, we’re asking the entire community to join us in making this Valentine’s Day extra special! If you want to receive a Valentine’s Day card from a community member, give us a call and we’ll get a card delivered to you. Or, if you want to join us in making cards for other seniors, visit or call us at 202-724-5626 for more information.

Across all of DACL’s programs, we’re also calling our participants just to check in. We’ll continue to connect and engage with you through programs like Call & Talk and our virtual events hub — your one-stop shop for fun and engaging activities you can participate in right from home. With our community partners, we’re updating and creating programming that’s designed with you in mind.

More and more seniors are making real connections with our team, with the community, and with each other, and I’d love for you to join us. We might be spending most of our time in our homes these days, but we all need connection. We need each other. So join us online or on the phone!

I’m not usually someone who makes New Year’s resolutions, but 2020 has brought changes for all of us! My personal resolution is also DACL’s resolution — I’m (we’re) resolving to continue to show up more for the community I (we) love. Let’s do this together. Join me in making a New Year’s resolution to reach out to just one more person in your life. Let’s make 2021 the year we commit whole-heartedly to being a part of our community — no matter what the New Year brings.

With Gratitude,
Laura Newland

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *