WILMINGTON, N.C. — The Frank Harr Foundation announced on Sept.27 the launch of their local affiliate of Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders (SAGE). The announcement was made at the City Council chambers at 102 N. 3rd St. Its official name is SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast.

“In assessing the needs of LGBT citizens in Southeastern North Carolina, the Frank Harr Foundation has recognized that senior adults in these communities have much to offer, as they experience significant challenges within limited support systems. Therefore, we have made services to these populations an area of priority for our organization, as we cultivate investments from healthcare agencies, local governments, and even recreational and cultural venues, in meeting the needs of LGBT seniors,” the Foundation said.

“I’m so pleased to welcome SAGE Wilmington of the Cape Fear Coast to our nationwide network of affiliates,” said Michael Adams, executive director of SAGE. “This affiliate’s strong track record of building ties to area healthcare and social service agencies that serve older adults, as well as their understanding of the local community, will ensure that LGBT elders in southeastern North Carolina can now look forward to receiving the services and programs so vital to healthy aging.”

Equipped with the data from a groundbreaking new survey of the health and human service needs of LGBT people who live in Southeastern North Carolina, the Frank Harr Foundation will work with community partners like the Area Agency on Aging, Lower Cape Fear Hospice and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, to assess the needs and resources of these populations, informed and inspired by the mission of SAGE: To improve the overall quality of life for LGBT seniors, to foster a greater understanding of aging in all communities and to promote positive images of LGBT life in later years.

“LGBT people are less likely to have children to support them as they age, and more likely to age as singles, live alone and be prematurely institutionalized,” Tab Ballis, a clinical social worker and faculty member of UNCW’s School of Social Work who sits on the board of the Frank Harr Foundation, told WHQR-FM.

SAGE said that some LGBT seniors encounter obstacles with regard to assessing services that it forces some to become closeted to avoid discrimination within the healthcare system.

Ballis hopes the SAGE affiliate will help to stave off this situation. He commented that lesbian, gay, transsexual and transgender people have found the Cape Fear Region to be a suitable place with which to retire, vacation and do business.

WHRQ-FM also reported that SAGE was partnering with the Lower Cape Fear Hospice, the Area Agency on Aging, UNCW and the New Hanover County Senior Resource Center, according to Ballis.

info: thefrankharrfoundation.com/sage.

— staff and releases

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' former associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director.