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Dawn Quattlebaum Speech at Gala for the Ages

Below is the full text of the speech from Dawn Quattlebaum, CEO of Seabury Resources for Aging, at the Gala for the Ages May 16th, 2024.


 

 

Thank you, Delia [Goncalves], for that kind introduction. Thank you, Marti [Brown Bailey], for those inspirational and heartfelt words. Your leadership is appreciated and as you finish your term as our Board President, we are in debt to your generosity for many years to Seabury. That spirit of generosity is shared by others on the Board and of course the sponsors and donors who fill this room tonight.


We are marking an important milestone for Seabury Resources for Aging® - celebrating 100 years of providing personalized, affordable housing and services to help older adults in the greater Washington, DC area live with independence and dignity.


Our work today builds upon the history of many stakeholders, partners, and community leaders who have been dedicated to keeping older adults safe, secure, and connected to valuable resources in the DC region.


Dawn Quattlebaum speaking at Seabury's Gala for the Ages
Dawn Quattlebaum, CEO

In your program, you will find a statement from Mrs. Sally Fauntleroy Johnson, who in 1931 wrote “The foundations of the greatest success are laid, not in days of universal prosperity when anybody can succeed, but always in days of uncertainty and difficulty when faith, courage and enterprise are required.”


Think carefully about what happened in 1931. The Great Depression had begun just two years earlier and would last for another eight years.


Despite incredibly hard times across the country, people did not stop dreaming of incredible achievements. The Empire State Building was completed in May and the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson was completed in October of that year, nearly doubling the record for the longest main span in the world.

 

Ms. Fauntleroy Johnson concluded her report to the Women’s Board by stating,


Throw a stone, it continues in flight as long as it has momentum; spin a wheel and it continues to revolve as long as it has momentum; but neither stone nor wheel will continue in motion from momentum alone; unless they receive increases in force, while in motion, they will come to a stop."

In the Hall of Fame upstairs in the mezzanine, you can read the stories of many others who have kept Seabury’s stone in flight, to keep the momentum of our mission going strong for a century.


When you leave this evening, you will receive a small gift bag as a token of our appreciation for your support here at the Gala. Inside you will find a stone that was hand-painted by members of Model Cities Senior Wellness Center. Please keep this stone as a reminder of the mission that you also keep in flight with your time, talent, and generosity.


I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank all the dedicated staff from Seabury who work so hard to advance our mission. Please give them a round of applause. I also want to acknowledge Deborah Royster, my predecessor as CEO who encouraged me to walk this CEO journey, and Joe Resch, my mentor and our CEO for 29 years, for teaching me so much about leadership and what it means to be the steward for such a historic mission.

I truly appreciate the support of so many of our individual sponsors, including former Board Chair and volunteer Gerry Perez and his wife Elen Glover, Board members Chris Gardner, Suzanne Welch and her husband John, Susan Spurlark, Marti Bailey and her husband Dan, as well former Board member and volunteer Paula Singleton, Deborah Royster and Robert Malson, Joe Resch and his husband Alex, and our Home First/Age in Place Advisory Council. Thank you for making an amazing personal investment in our mission.


I also want to acknowledge the centenarians in the room Evelyn McKenley, Evelyn Ford, Dr. Robert McCan, and Evelyn White. Each of you had birthdays before we could claim our anniversary. You are living legacies. You have lived through the Great Depression, at least two recessions, two World Wars, the introduction of computers, the Internet, mass production of cars and airplanes, advancements in medicine such as antibiotics, vaccines against polio and meningitis, and the X-ray. You survived COVID-19 and 19 U.S. Presidents. Let us give these exceptionally resilient people a special round of applause!


Please allow me to remind you that a Centennial anniversary is not just about the legacy we inherit – it is about the future we plan to build on the foundation that has been prepared for us. And just as Ms. Johnson wrote in 1931, we find ourselves in hard times that desperately need our mission’s work.


We are living in the time of peak 65 which means that there are more older adults in our country than at any point in our history. At the same time, we know that the resources they depend on are under threat. Politicians call for reforms of Medicaid and Medicare, and some warn us that Social Security is running out of funds. There are also great disparities among older adults related to health, economics, and housing.


Despite how much has changed in 100 years, the need for resources to support older adults has not. Seabury is still needed, maybe now more than ever, to support a grander goal of achieving health equity and to support older adults with their immediate needs of good nutrition, transportation, and outlets that mitigate social connection and food insecurity.


Dawn Quattlebaum speaking to the crowd at Seabury's Gala for the Ages
Dawn Quattlebaum, Seabury CEO

Together, we can ensure that no one has to navigate the complexities and challenges of aging alone.


In a few minutes, you will have an opportunity to raise your paddle and take that moment to make a donation to help us advance our mission. (raise the paddle). But before that process begins, let me tell you about the future Seabury envisions:


  • We envision a community where caregivers and their aging loved ones have access to care management - no matter their income. There is a crisis in caregiving, but we are training new Care Managers to increase our capacity to serve the community. We want no one in Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia to feel alone or lost as they support a loved one to age independently.

  • We envision that seniors in our region have good food to eat, and enough of it. Not just in the 80,000 meals we serve a year across Wards 5 & 6, but also in our Friendship Terrace community. As part of our refinancing, we have created a $2M Food Security Trust to make sure residents of all incomes don’t have to worry about choosing between meals or medicine in their budget. This trust is a good start, but it is incomplete – we will need to raise $1M more over the next 10 years to make it fully sustainable.

  • We envision that older adults in our community have safe, stable, supportive places to live. Because of its refinancing, Friendship Terrace now has 125 units which are deeply affordable, and when the new Springvale is redeveloped, it will have 236 affordable units, almost a 50% increase over its previous size. But we can’t stop there – the need for housing is so great and Seabury will continue to look for more opportunities to create affordable housing.

  • We envision that seniors have the means to get where they need to go. At the recent Budget hearing for the DC Department of Aging and Community Living, Transportation support was the #1 need providers and older residents raised in testimony after testimony. We have many resources for people in the region but they can’t help if people can’t access them. Many of you have fond memories of seeing the Seabury Connector fleet around town bringing seniors to dining sites, wellness centers, and other important venues. We have a plan to resurrect a smaller fleet and fill a critical gap in senior-focused, supportive transportation.

 

This is a powerful vision and one which we can and will accomplish together.


You donors, board members, volunteers, staff and contractors, and partners look so amazing to me tonight. You are a part of the Seabury family that will make what we envision a reality for the future. 

 

As I conclude, I challenge you to “throw a stone.” Throw a big one! Throw a stone, and watch it continue in flight to serve thousands of people around our region.


Thank you very much and take good care.

 

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