The sorority which I am honored to lead, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. (www.zphib1920.org), is an international sorority predominantly of African American women founded on January 16, 1920. Zeta Phi Beta believes that a sorority should not allow socializing to overshadow the real mission for progressive organizations – to address societal mores, ills, prejudices, poverty, and health concerns of the day. We have a long, proud, history over 93 years of putting this belief into action and serving the communities in which we live. Over this period we have had the privilege to partner with many wonderful community organizations in our work. Even though 93 years have gone by and much work has been done since our founding, clearly many problems in our nation remain and so our core belief is as relevant now as it was then. When I became International President of Zeta Phi Beta, I saw an opportunity to help address a major health concern of our day, that of caring for the older adults in our nation. So I launched the Zeta Elder Care Initiative.
The population of older adults in our country is growing at a brisk pace, and I wonder if we are ready for it? The stats indicate that 10,000 people in the U.S. turn 65 every day! Are we ready to support them and provide what they need? Through our Elder Care Initiative, the members of Zeta Phi Beta and auxiliaries will do our part to raise awareness of, and help provide for, the care needs of older adults.
One of the needs…. no, RIGHTS… of our older adults is to age with dignity and live free of violence and abuse. Older adults who have worked hard their entire lives, who have raised children, who have fought for their country, who have done so much for our nation should not have to live under the specter of abuse. The folks at Ageless Alliance have shared with us that the latest research indicates 1 in 10 older adults are abused annually in our country. This is about 5 million adults every year! This is 5 million too many. When I think about so many vulnerable adults being abused each year, my heart breaks. Elder abuse happens to people from all walks of life and cuts across all demographic groups. It can happen to you, to me, to any of us. It’s shocking to think of a public problem like this, that affects so many, yet gets such little attention from our society. Far too many people don’t know about this problem. Yes, I know that it’s not a topic that people want to discuss, but we can’t remain silent while so many are being treated unjustly.
Zetas and auxiliary members will not be silent. As part of our Elder Care Initiative we have partnered with Ageless Alliance to join in the fight for elder abuse prevention. Through our initiative, Zetas will be reaching out to their communities, with the help of Ageless Alliance, to raise awareness of elder abuse across the nation. In observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2013, Zetas are distributing public awareness materials in their communities. But we will not stop there. If we are to make long term progress against the scourge of elder abuse, we must do so with the help of legislators. Each year, Zetas gather in Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators about issues that concern us. I am proud to say that this year, for our “Zeta Day on the Hill” on September 18 & 19, 2013, we will be talking to members of the U.S. Congress about elder abuse, awareness and prevention.
I am proud to be the International President of Zeta Phi Beta and to lead a great organization dedicated to the precepts of Scholarship, Service, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood. Zetas are honored to partner with Ageless Alliance to do our part to fight for elder justice and for an end to elder abuse. My hope is that other sororities and fraternities in the U.S. will join us in this cause, lending their voices and energies to help end elder abuse.
Zeta Phi Beta believes that service to the community is our greatest legacy. Join us in building a legacy where older adults age with dignity and live free of violence and abuse.
Mary Breaux Wright
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.