- Listen to Ron's Interview with Rebecca Miller -
Project Independence : A Unique Model for Aging in Suburbia
More than a decade ago, officials from the Town of North Hempstead on Long Island noticed a significant trend in the Town’s Census data: the region’s older population—residents aged 75 to 84—increased 40%, while those over 85 had increased 60%, since the last national census. They also had discovered another important trend: many of these older residents were long-time members of their community who wanted to remain in their homes, aging in place independently for as long as possible. So the Town created an innovative program called Project Independence, which over the years has grown into a multi-faceted program with one primary goal: to help seniors live healthy, active and engaged lives by connecting them to valuable services and programs in their communities. In today’s episode, Rebecca Miller, Deputy Director of the Town of Hempstead’s Department of Services for the Aging, will talk about how Project Independence serves thousands of local seniors every year, linking them to health care professionals, taxi rides to doctors, socialization and fitness programs, shopping and home-repair services. Rebecca will describe how the program has created unique partnership with community organizations, health care professionals, social service agencies and businesses. And she will explain how Project Independence has evolved into a nationally recognized NORC—a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. While NORCs have been springing up across the country, they’re more common in urban settings—which has made Project Independence a distinctive and valuable model for suburban communities across America.
Rebecca Miller is Deputy Commissioner for the Town of North Hempstead’s Department of Services for the Aging, home of Project Independence—an innovative “Aging in Place” program, partnering with health & human service organizations, transportation providers, local leaders, older residents and family members. Rebecca is a lifelong New Yorker. born in the Bronx, her family moved to Forest Hills, Queens, and then Long Island where she grew up in Westbury with her two brothers. Rebecca received her Associates Degree from Nassau Community College and Bachelor of Science in Communications from SUNY Brockport. After graduation, Rebecca lived in Brooklyn and started her career with a consulting firm in Manhattan. After several years she married and moved back to Long Island to raise her own family. The move led to a career in health care administration including hospitals, not-for-profits and private practices. She found her niche serving the older population and was hired by North Hempstead in 2007 to assist in growing their Aging in Place initiative. In 2012, she was appointed Deputy Commissioner for North Hempstead’s Department of Services for the Aging. Today Project Independence has a membership of 16,000 town seniors and provides vital services including social work and nursing services, taxi and bus transportation, socialization and fitness programs. Rebecca is a regular host of the weekly Project Independence and You radio show which airs Friday mornings on 88.1 FM/WCWP.org and on North Hempstead TV and can be streamed from social media. Rebecca is also a certified Yoga instructor and a Reiki practitioner. She teaches Yoga for the Town’s seniors in person and on North Hempstead TV.