In 2020 the Herkimer County Office for the Aging was awarded a grant from the New York State Office for the Aging in collaboration with the New York State Departments of Health and State. The grant is designed to assist counties with incorporating healthy, age-friendly community principles into all relevant policies, plans, ordinances, and programs. Herkimer County’s aim in pursuing this initiative is to develop and promote resources that will contribute to healthier living environments in communities throughout the County, and help improve the quality of life for residents of all ages. Toward those ends, the Office for the Aging worked with other regional agencies and organizations, including the Herkimer County Administrator, Herkimer County HealthNet, Catholic Charities of Herkimer County, Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce, Herkimer Industrial Development, Herkimer County DSS, Herkimer Working Solutions, and Herkimer County Community College to form the Herkimer County Age-Friendly Coalition.

Over the past year, the Coalition has been meeting to discuss ideas and strategies for developing communities that meet AARP’s and the World Health Organization’s definition of “age-friendly.” The Coalition also worked with Herkimer County Community College to recruit a student volunteer, Julie Benhoff, to create an original logo for the initiative. Ms. Benhoff graduated Magna Cum Laude in May from Herkimer County Community College with an associate’s degree in Fine Arts. The logo she created will be featured on all Coalition materials and will help market the Age-Friendly initiative.

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The Coalition has developed a survey to help identify community needs then determine what steps should be taken to make communities “age-friendly.” The survey will be distributed throughout Herkimer County this summer in both hard copy and electronic formats, and responses to the survey will be collected through February 2022. Adult residents of Herkimer County interested in completing the survey should visit the webpage for the Office for the Aging (https://www.herkimercounty.org/services-and-departments/office-for-the-aging/).

Those who do not have access to a computer or who have questions about this initiative can call the Office for the Aging at 315-867-1121 for assistance. Paper copies of the survey can be mailed to county residents. Individuals interested in being a part of the Age-Friendly Coalition can also use this number to receive more information. Once the survey is completed the Coalition will use the feedback gathered to develop a work plan for making Herkimer County communities “age-friendly.”