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

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month. Like many of you, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own preparation in case disaster strikes, especially after seeing the devastation from Hurricane Harvey last month. I encourage everyone to visit for tips on developing an emergency preparedness plan.

Remember to reach out to your neighbors and friends in the community, identify homes where homebound or frail seniors reside, and make sure your plans include keeping them as safe as well. Community is the key to ensuring our neighborhoods are resilient when disaster strikes.

But we know how important community is all the time, not just during crises. One of the ways the D.C. Office on Aging is supporting community is through our Ambassador program. DCOA’s Ambassador Program is a free, interactive, educational program for District residents who are interested in helping us spread the word about services available to help District residents age in place.

Since we launched the program in 2012, we have trained more than 400 District residents on services available from DCOA. But our Ambassadors are eager to learn more and eager to engage more with our network and within their own communities. I’m excited to share with you how we are planning to grow the program this year. Here’s what you can expect:

Continuing Education — In addition to the two-hour Ambassador Orientation course, we are now providing continued training on a variety of topics important to seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers. We’ve already held sessions on Elder Abuse Prevention as well as Community Resilience & Emergency Preparedness, and we are planning more. Workshops on technology and digital literacy, Money Smarts and many more are currently in the works.

Volunteer Opportunities — We are also connecting you with community-based organizations where you can volunteer your time and maybe even apply some of the things you’ve learned through our programs.

Ambassadors On-the-Road — If you can’t make it to our office for the training, we will be holding training sessions in various locations throughout the city. We’re holding a training at Fort Stanton Recreation Center this month in addition to our monthly training at DCOA headquarters. Give us a call at 202-724-5626 to hear about a training near you.

Membership Levels — Whether you’re interested in just learning more about our programs, or you’re looking to expand your network and become more active in your community, we now have different levels of membership based on how much or how little you choose to be involved. Our Ambassadors can advance to higher levels of membership by attending more courses and volunteering.

Since we launched this program, our Ambassadors have done fantastic work connecting with their communities, and helping to connect our agency with isolated seniors. With our expanded program, we are providing you with more information, tools and resources to help you better serve your communities.

I want to acknowledge all of our Ambassadors who have taken our training and those of you who have worked hard on behalf of the Office on Aging in getting the word out about the work that we do every day to support seniors, adults with disabilities, and caregivers.

To learn more about our Ambassador program, give us a call at 202-724-5626, or visit our website at

We look forward to seeing you at an Ambassador training!

Be well.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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