A spokesperson for the D.C. Office on Aging told the Washington Blade that the office’s director, Laura Newland, has committed to funding a monthly LGBT community dining event for LGBT seniors in several locations across the city.
DOA spokesperson Karen Dorbin said the dining events will include entertainment, learning opportunities and peer-led support groups that could begin as soon as next month as part of a pilot program. She said the funding would continue through 2019 and beyond depending on how the program works out.
“All our meal programs are operated through our lead agencies, even if they partner with other organizations, like the D.C. [LGBT] Center, to reach specific populations,” Dorbin said. “We anticipate the programs will launch in June, at which time we will send a formal press release,” she said.
Dorbin said Newland approved the LGBT meals program at the recommendation of the DOA’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee, which released a report outlining its recommendations in April.
As part of its existing programs, the DOE operates six Senior Wellness Centers and 50 congregate meals sites throughout the city. Although LGBT seniors are welcome at all of these sites, Newland told the Blade last September, the DOA had not yet created a congregate meals program specifically for LGBT seniors.
DOA official Christian Barrera told members of the advisory committee in an email in April that Newland had also approved the committee’s recommendation that DOA provide LGBT “cultural competency, diversity and inclusion training for all DOA funded services and programs.”
David Mariner, executive director of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, said DOA had yet to release a formal request for proposals from LGBT organizations such as the DC Center to submit bids to become a host for one of the congregate meals programs. Dorbin said final details of the program were still being worked out and that groups such as the DC Center could play a role in the program.