Action in Maturity Enables Baltimore City Seniors to Remain Active in Their Communities

Nonprofit acts as a “senior center without walls.”

Published in Community Health - Community Health Stories

Action in Maturity (AIM) has been empowering older adults in Baltimore City to age in place for more than 40 years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Action in Maturity continued to be an essential part of the mobile senior community.

Laura Bristow, AIM’s executive director, says the organization received a $3,000 grant from the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund for COVID-19 relief. The grant helped pay for a portion of driver wages as well as fuel and van maintenance, filling in some funding gaps and allowing the organization to remain responsive.

“Transportation is critically important to the mental and physical health of our clients,” says Bristow. “If they can’t get to the grocery store or the doctor, the declines can be rapid. AIM transportation and other social services gain seniors critical access to places that most of us who drive might take for granted.”

Fred Koontz, president of AIM’s board of directors, describes the organization as a senior center without walls.

“We provide some of the same services as other senior centers in Baltimore City, and we’ve always had the extra component of transportation services,” Koontz says.

Koontz says AIM’s affordable service has established routes and is a dependable way for seniors to arrive at their destinations on time.

“In current circumstances, we take twice as many trips with half as many people per trip because we want people to be socially distanced,” he says. “Drivers are being particularly attentive to the health concerns of our clients. We follow all the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for masking, distancing and wiping down the vehicle.”

Bristow says AIM has fostered many partnerships in Baltimore, including one with the Maryland Food Bank. As the pandemic has raged on, AIM is there to assist with food distribution.

“In addition to food distributions, AIM vans provide grocery shuttles in neighborhoods ranging from Hampden to West and Southwest Baltimore,” Bristow says. “Or an AIM car picks up individual seniors from their homes, drops them at the store, and returns to bring them home when they are done. AIM’s senior-friendly drivers also help put walkers and packages in the trunk.”

AIM also transports older adults to doctors’ appointments, including regular visits to The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

“It’s a terrific service for senior citizens in Baltimore, particularly for seniors who are of modest means,” Koontz says. “We care about our members, and we look after them. We’re delighted to provide them services.”

Before the pandemic, AIM provided monthly events for seniors that included tax assistance, legal assistance, and an annual health fair with flu shots and information. They also provided classes such as yoga and dance.

Reba Cornman, a member of the board of directors and an older adult advocate, says AIM is an enormous asset to the community.

“It provides not only the ability for people to go to health appointments, but also trips in the greater Maryland area that are pure enjoyment. We’re an organization that older adults can count on,” she says.

Cornman says AIM is a critical service for elderly adults who want to age in place.

“We help them continue to participate in their community,” she says. “For many people, it gives them a chance to enjoy where they’ve lived and brought up their families. They continue to enrich their communities.”

AIM member Carolyn recently wrote a letter thanking the group for continuing to provide transportation for seniors during the pandemic.

“It is critical for us to still be able to get food, medicine, necessities and be able to go to the bank,” she wrote. “Help from family members is not always an option as some have health problems or live out of state. It’s awesome and brilliant how you provided two buses for social distancing to keep the services going. I always have fun and even more appreciate all you do for us. Thank you can never be said enough.”

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