By Anne Adelson
In our current social and political climate, the needs of diverse families in Michigan are evolving faster than our supporting institutions. The Jewish Gay Network of Michigan is offering a four-part series for older LGBT adults, Twice Blessed: Modern Family – You and Your Loved Ones, that addresses the unique issues facing LGBT families as they age.
The Twice Blessed Modern Family program begins with Establishing Legal Protections on May 4 at 7 p.m. at the Kahn Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield. Guest speakers include Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU-LGBT Project and Mary Kator, chief counsel of the Rainbow Law Center. They will discuss how federal and state laws fail to protect the LGBT community.
“Older LGBT adults, both singles and couples, tend to be marginalized and may not seek appropriate legal resources,” said Twice Blessed co-chair Linda Lee. “This program will address some of the ways that people who cannot get married or choose not to can still legally protect themselves.” Speakers will cover issues such as wills and trusts, housing and how older adults can use present laws to protect their rights and property.
Are you losing your nest egg?
The series continues with Securing Your Finances on June 9 at 7 p.m. in the Atrium of Henry Ford Hospital in West Bloomfield. Twice Blessed co-chair Marjory Miller believes older LGBT adults, along with those who haven’t yet reached senior status, can “use this event to become aware of the possibility of financial exploitation and how to avoid it.” Guest speakers will be Laura Champagne, executive director of Citizens for Better Care; Stacey Cassis, assistant vice president and senior financial advisor of The Spickler Group at Merrill Lunch; and Beth Correa, senior vice president of retail banking at Comerica Bank.
What happens if you get sick?
Part 3 of the program addresses what you need to know about inpatient hospital care for LGBT patients, partners and caregivers before the need arises. Health Care: Choosing Options and Communicating with Professionals will take place in the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Atrium on June 16 at 7 p.m. This event features a discussion of examples of sensitivity and care that should be routine with regard to patient care and families of choice, but often are not. Guest speakers will be Jim Kraft, the chaplain at Henry Ford Hospital, as well as other Henry Ford Hospital professionals. Topics will include the latest rules concerning DNR orders, what LGBT patients need to know to ensure their wishes are met in a hospital setting and helpful communication guidelines for professionals.
How can we create a community without closets?
The final event is Celebrating Our Diverse Community through Story and Song, which takes place on Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m. at the Kahn JCC in West Bloomfield. “This session will focus on creating a caring and accepting community for older adults, whether they are gay or straight,” said Judy Lewis, JGN executive director. The Sing Out Detroit choir will perform, followed by a panel discussion featuring Lewis and Carol Rosenberg, the executive director of the Jewish Family Life Foundation.
Tickets for this series are $10 each or $35 for the entire series. Pre-registration is encouraged. Information can be found on the JGN website http://www.jgnmi.org/events.html but walk-ins are welcome. Continuing Education Credits are offered for this series. See website for details.