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Rona Barrett to Deliver Keynote Address at ‘Symposium on Aging’

She will share her experience as an adult child of a parent with Alzheimer's disease

Pioneering entertainment journalist Rona Barrett will give the keynote address at “Building a Better Community for Seniors: A Call to Action — 2010 Symposium on Aging,” from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25 at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara.

Rona Barrett
Rona Barrett

Barrett’s address will draw on her experience as an adult child of a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.

The symposium will focus on advocacy as a method to address the challenges and unmet needs of seniors. The goals of this year’s event are to clearly define the state of seniors and services to seniors in the local community, to teach advocacy techniques, to provide tools to advocate for the basic needs of seniors and to protect the safety net of services in the community — including housing, food, and independence both physically and financially.

In keeping with those goals, Barrett will share the lessons she learned through caring for her father, such as how to work with agencies and systems to get her father’s needs met; to know what was missing, needed, not clear with those agencies and systems; and her approach to and activities related to advocacy to ensure her father had the best possible car possible.

Barrett also will share her unique insight into how media influence societal views of seniors and their needs, effective ways of reaching the media and influencing them, and things everyone should know about the media.

Though primarily known for her Hollywood infotainment journalism in the 1960s through the 1980s, Barrett, a Manhattan native, has an impressive resume of philanthropic endeavors.

After retiring full time to her Santa Ynez ranch in 1991, she began her community work. In 2000, she created the Rona Barrett Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping seniors in need.

Barrett’s recognition that there was a crisis in society’s ability to care for our aging population caused her to create the foundation, which seeks to provide a voice for those who have worked hard all their lives to enjoy their golden years, who are now becoming victims of a failing support system. The foundation and Barrett encourage others to use their skills, abilities and interests to make a difference in the lives of seniors.

Naomi Schwartz, a former Santa Barbara County First District supervisor, and Doreen Farr, current Santa Barbara County Third District supervisor, are co-chairs for this year’s symposium.

Sponsored by Santa Barbara County, the Gildea Foundation, the Hutton Foundation, the Santa Barbara Foundation and a host of co-sponsors, “Building a Better Community for Seniors” is open to all individuals. The cost is $40, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch and participant materials.

To register, call 800.510.2020 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Then, mail a check payable to Family Service Agency (with a memo line of “Symposium on Aging”) to c/o 315A Meigs Road, Suite 355, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.

— Jennifer Goddard is a publicist.


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