Arts for the Aging, the Washington area’s premier organization for bringing arts to the elderly, celebrated the 26th anniversary of its founding with a gala celebration at the Society of Cincinnati at Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., on Wednesday, Oct. 22.
The gala featured the presentation of the 6th Annual Sarnoff Award to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg was honored for distinguished service, humanitarianism, creativity and a lifelong engagement in the arts. Philanthropists and arts advocates Bill and Dorothy McSweeny presented the award to her, and special guests saluted Justice Ginsburg with personal toasts.
Shahin Mafi, a member of the board of Arts for the Aging and founder and CEO of Home Health Connection, chaired the Gala. Joyce S. Hagel-Silverman, Ph.D., trustee of AFTA, and Sheila Switzer, liaison with the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide were Gala Vice-Chairs. Members of Washington’s diplomatic corps were part of an honorary host diplomatic committee, including H.E. Elena Poptodorova, Ambassador of Bulgaria, H.E. Mohamed M. Tawfik, Ambassador of Egypt and Dr. Amani Amin, H.E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland, H.E. Ashok Kumar, Ambassador of Singapore and Mrs. Gouri Kumar.
The sponsors reception included a performance by members of Verge Ensemble. The Verge Ensemble is the performance group of the Contemporary Music Forum and the New Music Ensemble-in-Residence at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Lolo Sarnoff, the Swiss-German artist, scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, is founder and chair emerita of Arts for the Aging. Her outstanding accomplishments are many, and she has held philanthropic and volunteer positions with the Washington National Opera, the Washington Performing Arts Society, the Washington Ballet, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran School of Art. She founded AFTA in 1988 at the age of 72, realizing her personal dream “Do today as much as possible. Tomorrow may never come.”
Previous Sarnoff award winners include Irving Fields, pianist, composer and arranger; Carmel Quinn, singer, storyteller and comedienne; Jerome Barry, performance artist, master teacher, founder of Embassy Series; Dorothy Kosinski, director of The Phillips Collection; and Ambassador Donald T. Bliss (ret.), author, humanitarian and philanthropist.
“The vision of Arts for the Aging, or AFTA as it is often called, is to model and promote how very important dignity and compassion are in the care of older adults,” says AFTA Executive Director Janine Tursini. “Our programs demonstrate that arts intervention strategies are very successful in providing accessible and uplifting ways to cope with changing abilities as people age.”
As the Washington region’s leading arts service organization delivering life-enhancing and innovative experiences to older people — in day care centers, nursing homes, assisted living and community centers — AFTA’s customized arts engagements are led by trained artists and designed to minimize the effects of ranges of physical and cognitive challenges. Immersion in visual, musical, performing, literary, and intergenerational arts programs sparks the memory, lifts the spirit and creates social bonds, all so vital to impaired, vulnerable and isolated older adults.
Proceeds from the Gala will help AFTA provide high-quality experiences at dozens of adult day care centers, nursing homes, assisted living and community centers in the Washington metropolitan area. Arts for the Aging is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and offers most of its services free of charge.
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