Q & A: Leslie Schultz
Founder, Supporting Older Adults through Resources (SOAR)
What prompted you to start this organization and what is the mission?
I have had an affinity for older adults since I was a young girl and SOAR has been a dream of mine for many years. Helping those less fortunate is a driving force for establishing SOAR. I have been fortunate to work in the Frederick community for the last 20 years with the majority spent working with and on behalf of older adults. I have seen the challenges older adults and their families face struggling to have their most basic needs met and knew something should be done. Several other senior industry professionals have joined with me to launch SOAR and are on the board of directors. We all share a passion for our mission to provide direct financial assistance to older adults in Frederick County to meet their essential needs in a confidential, respectful and dignified manner.
As the Baby Boomers age, what challenges will they face and how will SOAR help?
One of the biggest challenges will be to access affordable services—housing, in-home care services, transportation and meals, to name a few. SOAR plans direct financial assistance to meet these and other needs. Our initial goal is to firmly establish this foundation to be a financial resource, with plans to develop programming and other services in the future.
Seniors come in all types, from those who still travel the world and continue to have jobs to those who are retired and enjoy nothing more than reading a book or playing cards. How does SOAR meet those differences?
SOAR’s first objective will be to offer financial assistance to those who need help with essential needs of daily living. We also hope to be a resource for accessing services within Frederick County; this can be a challenge for older adults, their families and caregivers. The older adult who is still independent may not have an imminent need for our assistance, but to know that we are there for the future may offer some comfort.
How are you raising awareness for this new organization?
Initially, we will work to establish partnerships with local organizations and businesses and hold fundraising and grant-writing events. Our recent partnership with FMH Home Health Services to kick off our first of what will be an annual event, A Toast to the Holidays, generated $7,000. A portion will be donated to the Friends of Meals on Wheels in Frederick County. Through these partnerships we can help to meet the needs of the county’s most vulnerable population, medically and cognitively fragile seniors. I co-chair a group called the Aging Network Alliance that meets monthly to share news about our respective organizations and learn about opportunities for seniors. Our website (www.SOARfrederick.org) and a brochure are being developed, and we are planning a launch party in May, National Older Americans month.
How would you like to spend your older years?
I hope to be active and healthy, living in my own home where I am most comfortable with the ability for my children and future grandchildren to visit often. As a family, we have built many memories around our dining room table and they continue to this day. Carrying on those traditions are very important to me and my family and the memories are invaluable. I believe that most people hope for this though sadly not everyone is able to achieve this.