Spending time with others through cooking and shared meals is a universal way that we foster community and connection with each other, no matter who we are or where we come from.
In honor of March being Women’s History Month as well as Nutrition Month, we wanted to recognize the women chefs and cooks who support the dining programs that foster health and connection among older adults in their communities.
Hayla Thompson has been working at Margie’s Café for the last year, serving healthy and delicious food to patrons of the Senior Center of West Seattle. Hayla is a self-taught cook and has utilized a lot of creativity to develop healthy and flavorful meals around multiple dietary restrictions.
“I cook a lot of vegan things, and I make sure there are vegetarian and vegan options every day. I want people to come in knowing they can eat a meal that fits their needs and doesn’t feel like an afterthought. I want people who are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-intolerant to know that there is food there for them.”
Before working in the café, Hayla was a volunteer with Community Dining and is continuously inspired by the creativity of food and by ingredients from different cultural cuisines.
While she hasn’t had a lot of experience working in commercial kitchens, Hayla is aware of the gender disparity that exists for women chefs and is grateful that er own experience has been overwhelmingly positive at the Senior Center of West Seattle. “They are great about fostering a safe environment, and there is no room for bad attitudes. Everyone is respectful.”
Hayla’s goal for the future is to become a Community Dining chef and to continue carrying out the positive culture and goal of putting out good meals every day with a lot of love and kindness.
Hayla shared this recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice, one of her favorite things to make at home. This recipe serves one but can be multiplied to serve as many as you like!
1 cup cooked rice 2 tsp oil ¾ cup kimchi 2oz diced spam or vegan sausage 1 tbsp soy sauce 8 sheets seaweed snack, torn 1 tsp sesame oil
Optional: 1 pat butter 1 egg
Heat oil on medium high heat in a wok or your favorite frying pan. Add diced sausage or spam and cook stirring often until lightly browned. Add Kimchi and stir until combined. Add rice and soy sauce and stir until heated through, then add torn seaweed and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat and add sesame oil and butter (if desired). Top with egg if using, and serve hot.
Last year, Celia Austria won the Advocacy & Activism Inspire Positive Aging Award for her continued dedication to advocacy of expanding mental health support for aging communities. Celia has spent her whole life working toward equality in every community she is in: her Filipino community, her local assisted living community, and the general community of aging adults who could benefit from additional mental health support. Celia is the President of the Park Place Resident Resource Group and has a background in psychology. She has offered free counseling sessions to her peers and hosts monthly Resident Resource Group meetings to raise awareness and advocate for more robust mental health services. Celia has gone well beyond her living community, lobbying for more funding for assisted living communities at the state level. She is a hard-working, kind-hearted, and spirited individual who values family and service to others above all else. She stresses the importance of remaining understanding and kind, even to those who may disagree or have differing opinions.
IPAA Nominations are open NOW through March 15th! The categories include:
Advocacy & Activism
Health & Wellness
If you know someone like Celia who is continuing to inspire positive change in the community as an older adult, show your appreciation and nominate them for the Inspire Positive Aging Awards!
Throughout 2022, the organization dedicated time and energy to collectively analyze our mission and how we talk about the work we are doing for the aging community. With diversity, equity, and inclusion at the forefront of our minds, we created a Mission & Vision that is grounded in our new values to be service-minded, foster community, uphold DEI, lead with compassion, embrace collaboration, and act with integrity.
We are delighted to share our updated Mission & Vision with you.
Our mission is to partner with older adults to provide accessible and inclusive services so they can age their way.
We envision a responsive, multigenerational community that recognizes and fulfills the diverse and changing needs of everyone as we age.
Your dedication to helping us carry this work forward through service delivery to aging adults in 2023 is needed now more than ever. With your help, we feel confident in our vision of a society where aging is vibrant, supported, and appreciated.
As we reflect on 2022, our hearts are filled with so much gratitude. Thank YOU for helping Sound Generations continue to fill in the gaps for older adults in your community. Because of your support last year, our programs were able to continue operating and setting new records of service despite the additional challenges of rising costs across the board due to economic inflation.
Our Meals on Wheels program served over 500,000 in 2022, the highest number of meals ever served over the course of one year. Both of our transportation programs also saw dramatic increases in ridership, which came along with significant increases in program costs due to the surge of gas prices throughout the summer. Despite these additional challenges, there were some notable expansions within program services that allowed us to make a wider and more meaningful impact for older adults in the greater Seattle area.
Community Food Bags, a short-term program that operated in conjunction with Community Dining and the affiliate meal sites, filled in the gaps of serving diverse groups with unique nutritional needs. Hyde Shuttle expanded to the eastside with a pilot program serving Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond. Project Enhance has continued to have a wider reach as well with their expansion of virtual program options for health and wellness classes.
With a growing number of older adult residents in King County and the ongoing challenges navigating economic impact and ongoing pandemic, the need for Sound Generations services is only becoming greater. We are committed to keeping our aging communities safe and healthy while fostering a support network that allows them to maintain as much autonomy as possible, living vibrant and fulfilling lives.
None of what we accomplished in 2022 would have been possible without you. So again, thank you for your commitment to changing the narrative around aging with us. We hope that you will continue the journey of support with us in 2023.
Over this past year, inflation in the greater Seattle area has skyrocketed to over 10% (source: https://www.bls.gov/regions/west/news-release/consumerpriceindex_seattle.htm) and older adults living on low or fixed incomes are among the hardest hit groups in our communities.
The rising costs of both groceries and transportation make the barrier between aging communities and access to regular, nutritious meals that much harder to overcome without help. For decades, Meals on Wheels has been a service that older adults and adults with disabilities can depend on, disrupting food insecurity by delivering ready-made meals right to their door.
But Meals on Wheels has also been affected by the soaring inflation rate, and continuing to offer service throughout King County is significantly more expensive than it was in 2021, with the average cost of service rising from $10 per meal to $12 per meal. And Meals on Wheels has provided over 425,000 meals so far this year!
Food Security is among the most fundamental essential needs for all of us, but now is the time to step in where we can and help ensure that our aging neighbors can continue to be fed and healthy amidst all of the economic challenges and uncertainty.
There are 3 disabled people in this household. Ages 97, 68, and 22. Social Security is our only income. Meals on Wheels allows us to stay in our home.
The vision of Sound Generations has always emphasized not only a society where older adults can thrive, but also where those who care for them can be equally supported. This part of supportive aging is sometimes left unacknowledged, but we recognize that caregivers need care, too.
The Caregiver Support team is made up of dedicated specialists who have been, or are currently caregivers themselves. They understand deeply how easy it is to put aside their own needs to care for someone else for so long, unintentionally allowing their own wellbeing to decline.
Caregiving is often an expectation in families. Grown children caring for their aging parents, and folks caring for a partner. Caregivers do what they do because, well, they care. They want to help those that they love. But they don’t have to do it alone, and they deserve their own time to rest, and to thrive, so that they can continue providing essential care.
As a more specified service, our Veteran Caregiver Support program continues to grow. This year, the program secured funds to offer veteran caregivers a $500 monthly stipend toward respite care that they can utilize in whatever way it is needed depending the the type and level of care needed by the veteran care recipient. Having anywhere from 4-16 hours covered by additional support means that veteran caregivers can have more of their own time to do the things they need or want to do, while knowing that their care recipient is in good hands. The respite care funding is secured through 2023, and has already shown to be lifechanging for the caregivers it benefits at Sound Generations.