The History of the East Valley Committee on Aging
The 1980’s in Mesa included a Community Council with a specific Committee on Aging (COA). The purpose of this COA was to do a community needs assessment, program development, education, and advocacy for the seniors. This committee had a staff person assigned to it and was under the volunteer leadership of one of Mesa’s outstanding dynamic pioneers – Clara B. Emmett.
Clara and her husband moved from Wyoming to Mesa, Arizona, where they had lived in the same house since 1930. She was very involved in volunteer work running the school cafeteria during the Depression, and helping the local Mormon Church start a welfare program.
When in the 1990’s the Community Council was absorbed into the United Way it relinquished its role as community planner and implementer. The COA became a freestanding committee and was housed in the senior center. Clara B. Emmett continued her leadership to informally assess and develop services. She helped to develop the “Sirrine Health Day Care Center” and “Meals While You Heal”. However, with the death of Clara B. Emmett, a shift in influence of the committee and citizen involvement occurred.
As the population aged, there was an explosion of entrepreneurial human services. These businesses and agencies help identify needs and develop new services. Members of these new businesses and services have become the backbone of the Committee. In December 2009, the senior members of the Committee asked member Steve Laughary to Chair the Committee. He accepted and became Chair starting January 2010. Steve has been reelected every year to chair the Committee. In subsequent years, with seemingly no interest from other members to be considered for the Chair Position, in 2016 the decision was made to cease going through the motion of elections. Steve Laughary has pledged to run the Committee as long as possible and find a suitable replacement when the time comes for him to move on.
Steve and the members wanted the Committee to include networking, raising awareness of the issues pertaining to aging, informing the aging population and industry professionals about resources, and advocating through the Committee's Collective Sphere of Influence.
It has always been Steve's intention to shape the committee so that it not only meets to share resources but could have a positive impact on the aging population in their homes. In February of 2014, the East Valley Committee on Aging became a dues paying membership. The dues were negligible but it allowed the Committee to enhance its presence on the web, in the community, and to raise funds for the development of a logo, website, tag line, and for projects. This has lead to the development of an active and vibrant Projects Committee.
In 2017 with the retirement of Dan Taylor, CEO of EVAR, EVCOA moved their meetings from the Mesa Active Adult Center to the public at large - being hosted by Senior Communities. First hosted by Legacy Retirement Residence and in 2018 through today The Summit at Sunland Springs. Membership dues were dropped in the summer of 2019 and are again at no cost to attend.
Coming to the end of 2019, our committee is still strong, diversified, and making a difference in our seniors' lives by sharing resources and connecting "those who have" to "those who need"
COME JOIN US
As we grow, the Committee will continue to promote
the development of programs and services
that contribute toward the enrichment of life
for the aging population
and help maintain their independence and usefulness
as citizens of the community.