The Capital District Senior Issues Forum is a voluntary initiative among faith communities, organizations and individuals that provides support for seniors in the Capital District through education and dialogue.

A Brief History

The Capital District Senior Issues Forum began in early 1998 as a pilot program focused on senior housing at Albany’s Westminster Presbyterian Church. The 1998 coalition included the same types of people who are still part of the Forum: current and former caregivers concerned about issues faced by loved ones; representatives from different faith communities who saw advocacy for older seniors as a mission of their faith community; government officials concerned about senior issues; administrators of different housing facilities and service groups; and seniors themselves. During 1999-2000, the Forum moved its headquarters to Catholic Charities and organized the current Steering Committee and Advisory Committee structure. The Capital District Senior Issues Forum (CDSIF) was founded in 1998 as a pilot program at Albany’s Westminster Presbyterian Church. It began as an interfaith and community initiative for individuals and organizations brought together to identify issues and advocate for seniors living in a variety of settings. Founding forum members included caregivers, representatives from different faith communities who saw advocacy for older adults as a mission of their faith community, government officials concerned about senior issues, housing administrators, senior service providers, and seniors themselves.

The objectives of the forum are:

  • To recognize the contributions of older adults,
  • To identify issues and unmet needs of the senior community,
  • To serve as the convener of stakeholders to address these issues through forums, legislative programs and educational programs,
  • To educate the community about issues affecting senior, and
  • To generate the support of faith communities for health, healing and wholeness of older adults.

CDSIF continues to be a grassroots, voluntary initiative among faith communities, organizations and individuals that provide support for seniors in the Capital District through education and dialogue.

Governing Structure

The Capital District Senior Issues Forum is governed by an all-volunteer 33-member Steering Committee, now chaired by Christine M. Cary, Director, Town of Colonie Senior Resources Department. Steering Committee members represent groups that provide services to seniors, educational institutions, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, State and local governments, faith communities, and seniors ranging in age from persons in their 60s to those in their 80s. The Steering Committee now has representatives from the New York State Office for the Aging; the Albany, Rensselaer, and Schenectady county offices for the aging; and partnerships with Albany Guardian Society, and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany. In 2009, the Steering Committee formally added Grassroots Representatives — individuals over age 65 to maintain the balance between service providers and laypersons.

The Forum’s faith community Advisory Committee is currently chaired by Deborah Damm O’Brien, Executive Director of DePaul Housing Management, Catholic Charities Housing, and Catholic Charities Senior Services of Schenectady. Sister Maureen Joyce, RSM, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany chaired the Advisory Committee from 2000 until her death in May 2010.

The Forum works with others to resolve issues or to create solutions for concerns identified by Forum participants. Among successful Forum projects have been the annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Ceremony, programs for seniors on fall prevention and fraud awareness, and several brochures and booklets on topics of interest to seniors. With our partner, Albany Guardian Society, a variety of co-sponsored programs has been provided.