Advocate for Older Adults Looks to Parker Center’s Bright Future

Thought Leaders in Action

“We are up against a headwind, supporting older adults, including the aging myths that suggest individuals 60 years and older don’t have value anymore and that their lives are on a downward slope,” said Rev. John Cramton, a founding funder for United Church Homes’ Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging and advocate for older adults.

John invested his philanthropic dollars into the center because he cares about the UCH mission to transform aging. He knows the center supports this through education, engagement, outreach and advocacy. Initially, John’s motivation was to make sure the center had a strong launch. Now, five years later, he says:

“It is gratifying to know this work is not only making an impact in central Ohio and the wider community but also having national influence.”

Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging Symposium John Cramton with panel on end-of-life and palliative care religions
Rev. John Cramton (center) shares insights about end-of-life care during a panel discussion at the 2018 Parker Center Symposium.

Countering Myths with Facts

The Parker Center counters ageist myths with facts, the latest research and technology. Its annual symposium is one way to see United Church Homes’ culture change in action. The conference offers a forum to learn and engage with others — perfect means for collaborating new ideas and solutions to an array of challenges. It brings together individuals and organizations who wouldn’t necessarily coalesce otherwise.

As a UCH Board member and chair of the Parker Center Advisory Council, John knows this work matters. “The center demonstrates how United Church Homes is a thought leader and not just a place to work or live. It inspires people to think in different ways. It is creating systemic change and transforming the views and assumptions about older adults in our society. It’s very exciting to be a part of this movement.”

Pride in Collaborative Service

Personally, John is proudest of the work the center is doing in Dayton, Ohio, in collaboration with Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton, on the LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit. “This partnership helps organizations work together to advocate for LGBT seniors who find themselves in difficult circumstances as they age. More organizations are joining us in exploring the unique challenges LGBT older adults face. We want to affirm those who are fearful of moving to a senior living community because they think they won’t be accepted. Our work with transgender individuals is especially moving, and I’m pleased that a faith-filled organization like UCH offers them hope.”

LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit speakers advocate for older adults Stu Maddux Joe Applebaum Gen Silent
Joe Applebaum and Stu Maddux discuss their film, “Gen Silent,” at the first LGBT Horizons of Aging Summit in Dayton in 2019.

A professional who works with and advocates for older adults, John is also a caregiver for both his mother and aunt, who have attended the Parker Center’s symposiums.

“These thought-provoking experiences have given both of them valuable information and new resources and have inspired our conversations, so they now feel empowered to make important decisions as they age,” he said.

Future Opportunities

John believes engaging with other organizations and thought leaders across the country is in the Parker Center’s bright future. These exciting collaborations will expand the impact of their collective work. This year, the Parker Center is working closely with filmmakers Stu Maddux and Joe Applebaum, who produced the award-winning documentary “Gen Silent,” about the challenges LGBT older adults may face when trying to access healthcare or housing. Their next film, “All the Lonely People (Minister of Loneliness),” will premier at this year’s symposium on Oct. 9 at Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center in Lewis Center, Ohio.

“Recognizing that renowned experts, such as Parker Palmer and Drs. Ira Byock, Laura Carstensen and Joseph Coughlin, know the Parker Center and are influenced by our work speaks to the caliber of the service the center is providing,” John said. “When we share good ideas, we are inspired to dream about what might be possible.”

Rev. John Cramton serves as a Board member for United Church Homes. He is also an an ordained UCC Minister and a hospice chaplain.

Read more stories from our Abundant Impact newsletter, which illustrates how generous donors like you are making a difference to the people we serve at United Church Homes.