On November 5, 2011 at Boys and Girls High School, Bridge Street Development Corporation (BSDC), in recognition of National Family Caregivers Awareness Month, hosted our first Family Caregivers Awareness Day, a daylong event meant to thank, support, educate and empower the numerous, unsung family caregivers of Central Brooklyn. Family caregivers are people who provide for the physical and psychological well-being of older parents, chronically ill spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones unable to fully care for themselves. They are the unseen and unpaid bedrock on which this country’s healthcare system depends and account for 80% of home care services provided in the United States.
In her opening remarks, Rhonda A. Lewis, BSDC’s president & CEO, expressed gratitude to the family caregivers in attendance: “I would like to thank YOU, the family caregivers who work tirelessly, who receive phone calls in the middle of the night, who take time away from your own jobs and family, and who put your loved one’s comfort and well-being ahead of your own. Thank you!” New York State Assembly Member Annette Robinson addressed the gathering about her own experience as a caregiver for her elderly mother. Nan Blackshear, from the office of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, also revealed her own role as a family care-giver before presenting a proclamation declaring it to be BSDC Family Caregivers Awareness Day in Brooklyn.
The keynote speaker at the event was Diane Leona Cooper, president and founder of Caregivers Outreach Ministry Empowerment, a Bronx-based non-profit organization that advocates for health awareness and education for family caregivers. The panel discussion included Ms. Cooper, along with elder care attorney Martin Petroff; Paula Rice, manager of African-American outreach for the NYC chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Patricia Myers, author of Embracing the Teardrops.
In planning the event, BSDC teamed up with the National Family Caregivers Association, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Emblem Health, AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association New York City Chapter, the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA and Walmart, to provide a variety of practical in-formation and resources to assist family caregivers. Workshop topics included: Caring for the Caregiver, Social Security and Medicare, Stress Reduction Techniques, Healthcare Reform & Homecare Services, and more.