Kendal at Ithaca Strengthens Commitment to DEIB

Aligning with Strategic Goals of Creating a Welcoming and Inclusive Environment

When Kendal Charitable Funds (KCF) opened the last round of affiliate grants, Kendal at Ithaca was inspired to propel the System’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategic plan forward on its campus. 

The campus started by engaging with SAGECare for training and credentialing of staff, which led to its Platinum Status accreditation. This accreditation signals that Kendal at Ithaca is a leader in LGBTQ+ aging cultural competence and that a large majority (a minimum of 80%) of management and non-management staff completed training. 

The campus has also pushed beyond the initial requirements of SAGECare accreditation and committed to participating in additional available training. For example, social workers who engage with residents participate in “Asking Inclusive Demographic Questions” that enable them to respectfully complete intake processes to consider LGBTQ+ individuals and explore new ways to ask questions that are LGBTQ+ inclusive.

The affiliate grant provided by KCF paid for the SAGECare initial training module and the additional education offerings. Kendal at Ithaca leaned on the expertise of its campus DEIB committee to recommend the best use of the additional funds, which led to a partnership with the Ithaca Southside Community Center.

Ithaca Southside Community Center

Members of the Kendal at Ithaca DEIB Committee, which includes residents, staff and board members, recognized a budding opportunity with the Ithaca Southside Community Center. The community center’s mission is to “affirm, empower, and foster the development of self-pride among the African-American residents of Greater Ithaca.” Residents of the greater Ithaca community lean on this organization for summer camps, after-school care, venues for special celebrations, and much more.

Kendal at Ithaca residents enjoy the opportunity to provide classes at the community center, which allows them to share their skills and engage with the local community beyond the campus. For example, residents have provided classes on floral arrangement, gingerbread house making, and more.

This year, Kendal at Ithaca wanted to offer the pool on campus to the children who participate in Ithaca Southside Community Center’s summer camp. After COVID-19, the community center needed help finding a public pool where the kids could visit and learn to swim. Throughout the summer, the swim committee at Kendal at Ithaca welcomed the children onto campus multiple times a week. The funds from the KCF grant provided the money to hire a lifeguard to ensure a safe experience. The residents also volunteered their time to give an extra set of eyes and organize activities.

Elizabeth Bixler, a resident at Kendal at Ithaca shares, “Working with children from Southside Community Center has been one of the highlights of my experience as a resident at Kendal because it embodies Quaker values of sharing and respect, as well as helping forge friendships and relationships with members of a diverse community.  I am especially excited and proud to be part of a program that will teach children, who would not otherwise learn, how to swim.  This is a lifesaving skill that will change, and perhaps save, the lives of young children for whom drowning is a leading cause of death.”

The joy of volunteering with children from the community center is shared by the other resident participants of the summer swim program and influenced the decision to use the remaining KCF affiliate grant funds to provide after-school swim lessons to the center, which started in November. The funds will be used for a lifeguard. The local college swim team will also visit the campus and teach the children to swim.

Establishing Kendal at Ithaca as an Inclusive Environment to Residents, Staff and Community

Kendal at Ithaca After School Swim Supporters

Megan Fretto, Workforce Development and Engagement Specialist at Kendal at Ithaca, shares how the partnership with the Southside Community Center has been a highlight for the campus, “The DEIB committee is thrilled by the relationship we’ve been able to build with the Southside Community Center. This partnership has allowed us to create even deeper ties with the community. Residents have also expressed how meaningful it has been to share their time and talents with the larger community.”

Additionally, this partnership has encouraged residents and staff at Kendal at Ithaca to engage with people of different ages and interests, and open their doors to the larger community, signaling their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The campus looks forward to growing further roots with the Southside Community Center and will share updates soon.

Funds provided by Kendal Charitable Funds

Kendal believes that a spirit of inclusion and a culture of diversity enrich and strengthen communities, people and services. Creating this environment requires concentrated efforts and is the shared responsibility of each community and team member.

Kendal Charitable Funds, incorporated in 1989, supports the charitable goals and aspirations of The Kendal Corporation, its network of affiliates and the wider world of aging. The 2022 Affiliate Grant program provided support to Kendal affiliates in areas focused on increasing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and a sense of belonging, particularly among employees. Each month, we plan to share a story from a Kendal affiliate to highlight the strides they made in DEIB initiatives as it relates to the workforce.