SAGE - Senior Action in a Gay Environment - was founded in New York City in 1978 to improve the lives of LGBT older adults. SAGE of South Florida (www.sagewebsite.org) was founded in 1994 “by a cadre of dedicated women and men determined to establish a viable organization to serve the needs of the senior LGBT community of Broward and Palm Beach counties.”
According to SAGE South Florida President Patrick Vida’s “history of SAGE,” in 1992 “the Sunshine Cathedral MCC assigned Ed Jones to explore ways to develop and expand its programs for senior-age church members. At a meeting on March 22, 1994 a task force was formed which included members of the newly formed Community Center. They consulted with the New York gay advocacy group SAGE and determined it best to establish a community-wide organization independent of the church. Planning meetings were held on April 5and 12 and a ‘kick-off’ luncheon was held at the Garden Restaurant to ascertain interest.”
A steering committee was formed, committees were created, articles of incorporation were drafted and the rest is history.
A quarter of a century later, SAGE of South Florida is both the second largest and the second oldest of SAGE-USA’s thirty national affiliates. According to its Mission Statement, “SAGE of South Florida is a non-profit organization that enriches the lives of the LGBT senior community through membership inclusive of age, gender, race, nationality and religion. We accomplish this by sponsoring social alternatives providing personal interaction, offering educational opportunities to deal with the special needs of aging, and promoting contact with the isolated and homebound persons of our community.”
Though SAGE’s demographics range far and wide, most of its members are of retirement age. I joined in my fifties, a decade ago, when I was one of the South Florida chapter's youngest members.
SAGE of South Florida’s social events and programs provide its members with a wide range of activities. They include a monthly “Lunch & Learn” at the Skolnick Center in Palm Aire, a monthly SAGE Women’s Lunch at the Golden Corral in Tamarac, a weekly Men’s Drop-In at the Pride Center, a SAGE Book Discussion Group at the Stonewall Library, a SAGE Computer Class, SAGE on the Border/Alternatives in Boca Raton and, with the Prime Gentlemen, a monthly movie at the Pride Center. Many SAGE activities are held in the afternoon, for the sake of the members who can’t travel at night.
According to SAGE of South Florida President Patrick S. Vida, the group “was instrumental in the founding of the Noble A. McArtor Senior Day Care Center and the Active Aging Health Expo. We are proud of these achievements which benefit not only our members, but the entire senior community at large. We continue to partner with and support other community groups, such as Prime Gentlemen, the OUTShine Film Festival, and the Florida Grand Opera, all of which complement our mission to enrich the lives of our older LGBT citizens.”
Some past presidents of SAGE of South Florida expressed their support for their group:
Ken Goodman: “When I joined SAGE 15 years ago my objective was to volunteer and help my fellow GLBTQ seniors. As I’ve gotten older and my partner has passed I still volunteer, remain on the Board of Directors but also have come to appreciate that SAGE is a place to socialize, make friends and stay in touch.”
Jean Johnson: “Being president of SAGE for two terms was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life. Our SAGE organization is beneficial for the health of our members and the community at large.”
Carl Galli: “After 25 years SAGE of South Florida is still a wonderful organization enriching the live of our Senior Lesbian and Gay Community. SAGE of South Florida was relevant when we were founded and we are relevant now.”
The City Commission of Wilton Manors honored SAGE at its Sept. 10 meeting when it passed a Proclamation declaring Sept. 22 to be SAGE of South Florida Day. On that day Mayor Justin Flippen and Vice Mayor Tom Green joined 100 SAGE members and guests at a 25th Anniversary Celebration held at Fort Lauderdale’s posh Pelican Grand Beach Resort. The event featured a lavish luncheon at the Oceanview Ballroom, with entertainment by the brilliant James Perkowski.