Dear friends of Adopt-A-Grandparent:
When Linda Langstraat moved into inner-city Atlanta thirty years ago, Grant Park was a badly deteriorated community. Crime had taken over the streets. Old homes, once tidy bungalows and stately manors, had fallen into the hands of absentee landlords who overloaded them with struggling humanity. The remaining homeowners, mostly seniors, had shrinking resources for maintaining their homes and little capacity to arrest the relentless decline. Alone and isolated, these seniors closed their blinds, dead-bolted their doors, and clung to whatever hope their faith would supply. That was the reality that Linda encountered when she became a neighbor.
Committed young visionaries like Linda moved in and began buying and restoring dilapidated houses. Crime declined. Gentrification ignited a new economy. Society changed as well. Government care for seniors increased; food, health care and supported living communities became more affordable. The final years for many seniors became some of their better years. Adopt-a-grandparent, with a singular mission to care for these seniors, had done a remarkable job.
Much has changed in thirty years. Many of the elders have moved into those supported living communities, and are now enjoying social engagement and ongoing support. Also, due to the decline of our economy, a great number of Atlanta’s seniors have either moved in with family or have had displaced family members move in with them. With this change in dynamics, growing numbers of families have reclaimed a sense of responsibility for their elderly relatives and are providing for their needs.
After 30 years of fruitful work, Linda retired and returned to her family in Oregon. Wendy Butts, a remarkably talented person with a heart for seniors, picked up the Adopt-A-Grandparent banner and for the past three years has led the charge. But Wendy, like Linda, sensed that the world of seniors had changed, and while they still needed friends and support, for the most part the urgency of their situations had begun to dissipate. With that change came a great difficulty to raise funds for the program, especially when levied against missions deemed more critical to saving lives. Finally, after several months of prayer and soul-searching, Wendy and the Adopt-A-Grandparent board made the difficult decision to begin winding down the Adopt-A-Grandparent program.
Volunteer relationships will obviously continue. They are founded on enduring relationships, not program structure. Also continuing are the other ministries of FCS that strengthen and rebuild urban communities, even as we did in Grant Park. Wendy has been hired by the Atlanta Regional Commission as a Senior Program Specialist in Aging Services and will continue to be a resource for our seniors. We want to assure you that your investments over the years in the lives of seniors have borne good fruit – returns that for the most part will only be realized when the curtain of history is pulled back and we are allowed to see the full impact of our care. We hope that you will continue to partner with us in ministry.