Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

On Wednesday, Sept. 21 from noon to 2 p.m., a ceremony was held in honor of West Chester joining the American Association of Retired People (AARP) Network of Age-Friendly Livable Communities. The event took place in the Council Chambers of the West Chester Borough Council Building, and the event hosted a variety of West Chester University faculty.

The event began with registration and a networking lunch, where professionals from either the West Chester area or AARP had the chance to introduce themselves to one another and learn more about what, exactly, joining the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Livable Communities meant for West Chester.

“We want more communities to be a part of [the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Livable Communities] than not,” said Jean Setzfand, Senior Vice President of AARP.

Setzfand talked about West Chester’s plan of action for when the community becomes a part of the AARP Network.

“I actually looked at the plan for West Chester, and it’s one of the most unique plans I have ever seen… they actually have a really intergenerational plan,” said Setzfand.

Setzfand talked about how West Chester’s plan was so unique because they have a great combination of millennials and seniors, so the community’s plan has a strong focus on integrating both of those aspects of the community.

After some opening remarks from Dr. Jasmin Tahmaseb-McConatha, Mark Yoder, the President at the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, gave remarks on the importance of supporting members of the community.

“We are proud that we are able to work with the community,” Yoder said. “It is important for the community to think about our small businesses first.”

After Yoder’s remarks, Carolyn T. Comitta, the mayor of the Borough of West Chester, gave remarks on how the community became a part of the AARP Network.

“This goes back a number of years, and has been a partnership between West Chester University and the mayor’s office… Jasmin McConatha reached out to me from the university and said that she wanted to work to achieve the World Health Organization age-friendly community designation, and there is a very strict series of accomplishments you must achieve in order to be designated by World Health Organization… and so working together, West Chester University and the mayor, we received that designation,” said Comitta.

Comitta also spoke about an award from the National League of Cities, an organization dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities, given to West Chester for being an inclusive community.

“So this is a designation of being a wealthy, livable community for people of all ages, all countries of origin, all races, all religions. So, we’ve had this approach as an inclusive community for about ten years, as long as I’ve been an elected official. Then we moved forward with West Chester University on the Inclusive Community Designation. And now we have AARP recognizing us for our work and designating us an age-friendly livable community,” said Comitta.

After Comitta’s remark, Setzfand spoke about the diverse population of West Chester residents and commended the seniors for being so actively a part of the community.

After Setzfand’s remarks, there was a Q&A session, where Comitta, Setzfand, Yoder and many more answered questions on the designation of Age-Friendly Livable Community, and how that would have an impact on the community. Audience members had the chance to write their questions down on notecards before the opening remarks by McConatha.

After the Q&A session, Comitta followed up with closing remarks.

“Here we are, celebrating what we have achieved and created in West Chester,” said Comitta. “It lets more people know what we’re doing here, that West Chester is not only a great university and a great place to build a school, [but] also a great place to build a family, own a business, shop, dine and live as a senior citizen.”

The final 15 minutes were designated to more networking, giving people who had been previously unable to network a chance to do so.

The AARP Age-Friendly Livable Community Network has more than a dozen states enrolled and represents more than three dozen communities.

Kinjal Shah is a third-year student majoring in English writings track. She can be reached at KS826308@wcupa.edu.

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