As the calendar has turned to 2023 and the policy focus shifts to state and county budgets, it is important to reflect on what was a very busy 2022 for The Council On Older Persons (COOP).
COOP is the last remaining advisory group from the predecessors to The Center for Community Solutions, the Welfare Federation and the Federation for Community Planning. It has been in existence for over 70 years and continues to be a leading voice for older adults in Greater Cleveland. Comprised of 50 representatives from the public, nonprofit, and public sectors, COOP has positioned itself as an organization that is successful at ensuring that older adults remain a top priority in legislative and community discussions.
COOP remains a steady voice in a sea of change under the leadership of COOP Chairman Bert Rahl and Vice Chair Marsha Blanks.
With leadership changes in multiple layers of local government including the city and county, as well as in foundation and community organizations across the city and county, COOP remains a steady voice in a sea of change under the leadership of COOP Chairman Bert Rahl and Vice Chair Marsha Blanks.
Last year, COOP welcomed several community leaders to its General Body meetings including:
- State Representative Bishara Addison, Ohio House of Representatives, District 9
- Sonia Pryor-Jones, Chief of Youth and Family Success, City of Cleveland
- Blaine Griffin, Cleveland City Council, President
- Natasha Pietrocola, DSAS Interim Administrator
- Wanda Davis – Ashbury Senior Community Computer Center (ASC3);
- Katie Grootegoed– DigitalC
- Carlos Lewis Miller, Project Manager, Case Western Reserve University
- Kate Warren, Director, Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Act Council
- Kelsey Bergfeld, Director, Advocates for Ohio’s Future
Additionally, COOP welcomed all three primary candidates for Cuyahoga County Executive, Chris Ronayne, Tariq Shabazz, and Lee Weingart, to discuss their platform and what they would do to prioritize older adults across Cuyahoga County.
After the primary, COOP hosted the “Senior Forum” on September 19 with the final two candidates for Cuyahoga County candidates, Chris Ronayne and Lee Weingart. At this forum, the candidates went into additional detail about their goals if elected, including investing in housing, transportation, food insecurity, and other social determinants of health.
COOP followed that by contributing a blog post entry in the 2022 “Dear County Executive” blog post series.
Finally, COOP also held two roundtables in the fall of 2022. One was with the incumbent Republican candidate for Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost. The other was a roundtable with the Democratic challenger, State Representative Jeffrey Crossman.
COOP had two people who completed their terms on COOP, Dr. Stephanie Fallcreek and Beth Silver, who were integral parts of the organization for several years.
COOP also worked hard to improve its internal processes, through the establishment of the COOP Bylaws Task Force. The Task Force findings were voted and approved in November, and allows COOP to stay relevant and influential for years to come by establishing processes to include those who have been in the aging field for decades, as well as providing a method for younger persons to get involved in the aging network.
I am enormously proud of our COOP members who have overcome these hurdles and have brought their ideas, their energy, and influence to our meetings on a regular basis.
“It hasn’t been easy getting organizations to adapt to this environment which seeks to maintain effectiveness, even while prioritizing public health and safety during the pandemic. I am enormously proud of our COOP members who have overcome these hurdles and have brought their ideas, their energy, and influence to our meetings on a regular basis,” said COOP Chair Bert Rahl.
“The ongoing support of the McGregor Foundation, Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging, the Benjamin Rose Institute, and the Cuyahoga County Department of Senior and Adult Services means that we will continue to be able to chart a path that creates strong connections for COOP members and the community, through in-person and virtual means,” Rahl concluded.
John Corlett, President and Executive Director of The Center for Community Solutions added “COOP has a long track record of success in the community and it has demonstrated strength and resilience, even in a policy environment that seems to change on a practically daily basis. The demographics of our city, county, and state continue to change and the prioritization of older adults is of paramount importance in the months and years to come.”