As Congress negotiates the next COVID relief package, 10 associations of faith-based and mission-driven aging and disability service providers joined with the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries to demand that lawmakers include comprehensive relief measures to safeguard older adults and care workers.
In a letter today to Congress and the Administration, they outline the crucial resources for all providers and staff who care for older adults, based on national aging services association LeadingAge’s Five Essential Actions.
“Today we are coming together to urge you to find common ground, and deliver the life-saving relief we need to continue fulfilling our historic role in the lives of so many Americans,” they said in the letter. “It is not acceptable to continue on as we have been for months. This is a full-fledged crisis like we’ve never seen before that will only worsen in the crucial days and months to come.”
“We are aligned in our ardent belief that the actions you as leaders of our country take in the next weeks will determine the life and death of many of our nation’s most vulnerable older adults,” the letter continues. “This is an historic moment. It must be met with historic action. Older adults deserve nothing less.”
Collectively, the organizations represent more than 5,000 organizations based on a range of faiths and denominations, including Catholics, Jews, Lutherans, Methodists, Mennonites, United Church of Christ members, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterians, and Quakers.
The letter notes that nearly 100,000 people over age 65 have died from COVID-19 in recent months, and that the virus has been most deadly for older persons of color. Additionally, nearly half of all COVID-19 fatalities have been nursing home residents and staff.
“CHHSM is glad to join these other faith-based health and human service organizations in advocating for our employees, volunteers and older adult residents in our many affordable housing, life-plan communities, and human service outreach organizations across the country,” said Michael J. Readinger, CHHSM president and CEO. “In particular, we want Congress to respond to the disproportionate impact this pandemic has on persons of color. We are called to Be A Voice of love in advocating for all God’s children as we create a more just, caring and compassionate world.”
Readinger was joined in the letter by 10 leaders of associations of faith-based and mission-driven aging and disability service providers. Here is the complete list of signatories:
- Don Shulman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Association of Jewish Aging Services (AJAS)
- Sr. Mary Haddad, RSM, President and CEO, Catholic Health Association of the United States
- Michael J. Readinger, President and CEO, United Church of Christ Council for Health & Human Service Ministries
- David Lawrenz, Executive Director, Fellowship of Brethren Homes
- Jane Mack, President & CEO, Friends Services Alliance
- Charlotte Haberaecker, President & CEO, Lutheran Services in America
- Karen E. Lehman, President/CEO, Mennonite Health Services (MHS)
- Reuben D. Rotman, President & CEO, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
- Cynthia L. Ray, M.Div., Executive Director, Presbyterian Association of Homes & Services for the Aging
- Mary Kemper, President & CEO, United Methodist Association of Health & Welfare Ministries
- Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO, LeadingAge