‘Boomers and Beyond’

Kristen Johle was lead organizer for the first "Boomers and Beyond Forum" held last week at the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber invitation was to bring together businesses that support the "seniors" of Kerrville; and the event drew about 50 people for discussion of future services and events.

When the call went out from the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce to attend a “Boomers and Beyond Forum” to establish a group of businesses that support the “seniors” of Kerrville, organizers didn’t know how many to expect.

What they got was an overflow crowd of about 50 people at the Chamber office on July 18, and active interest in continuing this conversation.

The intent was and is to bring together those businesses who either focus on or want to expand the support of the senior citizens of Kerrville.

Organizer Kristen Johle said the purpose is to provide networking opportunities and collaboration among the volunteer members to discover ways to serve the community and grow their businesses.

She said this began earlier as a coalition on aging for care providers, but it has transitioned to networking and health care issues.

“We want to invoke change in the Kerrville community for our ‘Boomers’,” Johle said.

Guest speakers included Monica Zuniga of Alamo Hospice, and Tina Woods of Kerrville’s Dietert Center, in addition to Johle.

Johle began the meeting by asking everyone attending to introduce themselves and their businesses.

Representatives attended this initial meeting from Kerrville State Hospital; Senior Care Center; Attorney Fred Henneke; River City Hospice; Brookdale Senior Living; Guadalupe Investments; Century 21 Real Estate; Mossman Financial; Texas Public Radio; Senior Living Options; Kerrville City Council; Dietert Center; Peterson Hospice; New Century Hospice; Mountain Villa Assisted Living; and Caring Senior Services.

Others were Advanced Insurance; ERA Colonial Real Estate; Coldwell Real Estate; Kerrville Daily Times; Peterson Health; Emerald Cottages; Ron Vick insurance; Hill Country Community Journal; League of Women Voters; Hill Country Memorial Hospital; Texas Tech University; Centennial Bank trust office; Riverhill Health/ Rehab; MacDonald Property Management; and Oper8 Business Systems.

Boerne example

Zuniga said the purpose would be to transition this forum into the Kerrville chamber, and said a group in Boerne including Alamo Hospice is trying the same state of networking with a connection to the chamber there, but with only about 15 members. It’s called Senior Service Network.

“We want to hear from you what you want from this Kerrville group,” Zuniga said. “The Boerne group came up with a ‘purpose’ and Kerrville’s would be different.”

She and Johle said they see this group functioning as a chamber liaison, to help grow their businesses.

Zuniga said in Boerne for function, they divided into four committees that give reports at monthly meetings. There the committees are resources, education, government and employment.

The resource committee is working to produce a “Resource Guide” in large print with articles; and Zuniga showed the San Antonio version to the Kerrville group.

“We recommend leaving information at the local library at least twice a year,” she said.

The education committee is tasked with planning symposiums with speakers and to print information for attendees to take home.

Members of the government committee are asked to make contact with local government officials; and are working on a “needs assessment” now.

Zuniga said everyone agrees there is a huge employment need, but this one has been the hardest to get going.

“The vision is still there to help fill CNA and LVN positions,” she said.

She said their meetings include a “Did you know …?” section; and a recent program was presented by Lighthouse for the Blind.

She said AACOG services include the Alamo Agency for the Aging, and observes “Older American Month” annually.

“All of you are on the ground-floor of this and you can map the direction for the future.”

Dietert Center

Woods said they intend the activities of this group to fit Kerrville and fit Kerr County businesses.

“About 3,000 people come through the doors at Dietert each year, and they often ask ‘Where can I find ...?’ We can’t recommend any particular business but we do offer classes in all kinds of topics.”

Woods said Chamber President and CEO Walt Koenig is open to putting a bit on the chamber website about this group.

“Not everyone retires wealthy here. I could see people in this room offering seniors discounts in their businesses, if they connect through this forum.”

Closing

Johle asked attendees to help choose top priorities for the Kerrville group; and added the group also needs participation by veterinarians because of the number of seniors with pets; and air conditioning and plumbing repair businesses, adding, “This forum needs to look at what seniors actually need day to day.”

She asked those attending to help choose what committees are needed here.

Participants suggested help from financial planners for children or widows/widowers of Baby Boomers.

Johle said the group can be considered safe and credible under the Chamber.

Attendees were asked at the closing to fill out an evaluation form and suggest:

• What is most important for future programs?

• What meeting timing/format is preferred?

• How often should this group meet?

• Would you like to be a leader for the forum?

They were encouraged to call Koenig at the chamber office at 896-1155 or email him at walt@kerrvilletx.com.

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