The SSAFE Model

The SSAFE Model

Who We Are

As elders privileged to live in full-service retirement communities, we recognize the profound importance of addressing the climate crisis. Ours is the most freighted moment in human history; the choices of people alive today will determine the future of hundreds of generations to come.

SSAFE is a steadily growing group of residents who currently reside in many communities across the country, some of which are affiliated with the Kendal Corporation. Kendal’s Quaker-based values—especially “sustaining and improving the environment” and “building meaningful partnerships”—are SSAFE values. SSAFE brings to the growing worldwide movement to halt global warming the unique resources of retirees: the time, life experience, financial stability, and organizational skill needed to help stabilize the climate and create conditions so that everyone’s children, grandchildren, and all other forms of life on our planet can flourish. While we are an independent organization, we work closely with staff and administrators at each campus and with the Kendal Corporation itself to pursue our goals.

How We Got Started

In early 2020, disturbed by more intense, frequent, and destructive weather events caused by a warming world, a half-dozen residents at Kendal at Hanover reached out to leaders in the other Kendal communities and formed a cross-community organization. That group agreed on two goals: to advocate for national carbon neutrality by 2050, with enforceable reductions of 50% by 2030; and to facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions on our campuses. Three teams were formed:

  • Education informs residents about the urgency to act on our goals, and supports their journey to activism.
  • Greening develops innovative approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promotes environmental improvements on our campuses; and
  • Advocacy promotes government policies aligned with our goals.

Because SSAFE communities function as a voluntary federation, it was important that we remain independent of the Kendal Corporation. So SSAFE was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 2021. By 2022, our fundraising success enabled us to bring on board a full-time program coordinator to support our three project teams.

The Braided Rope

SSAFE’s Education, Greening, and Advocacy Teams are the three strands that, woven together, contribute to our overall institutional strength. In the crowded field of nonprofits, this braiding makes SSAFE unique among elder groups. Unlike AARP, LeadingAge, or Elders Action Network, SSAFE develops programs, documents their success on our open-source website, and fleshes out an organizational model other Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) can replicate. The three project teams meet monthly online to share best practices at their home communities, ask questions, and gear up to support SSAFE initiatives. Below are a few examples of activities from each team.

Advocacy, Education & Greening our Campuses

SSAFE’s advances it’s mission & goals through the results from three primary project teams: Advocacy, Education and Greening Our Campuses.

Each project team meets online once a month to work on projects aligned with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kendal-affiliated member residents may join any of the three project teams. Please contact us about participation in a project team.

Advocacy Project Team Activities

  • Tracks legislative and regulatory action at the local/state/national levels.
  • Develops information on legislation and regulations regarding climate policies.
  • Creates “Action Alerts” which are distributed to residents to sign online petitions, offline paper petitions, and online letter writing campaigns to elected officials and policy makers.
  • Tutors members on how to write op-eds and letters to the editor for regional newspapers.
  • Encourages seniors to use their time and energy to take actions such as post card writing during election seasons, divesting from “dirty” banks that fund fossil-fuel projects, and participating in demonstrations.

Education Team Activities

  • Meets regularly to share news and ideas on educating Kendal residents about climate change, the environment, biodiversity, connecting to nature, and maintaining hope in the face of climate change.
  • Hosts a monthly Climate Café, a monthly discussion group on various topics related to climate change. Unlike a regular book club, the SSAFE Climate Café focuses on a variety of media such as films, articles, videos, selections from books, essays, and more.
  • Publishes a quarterly, resident-written newsletter with sustainability achievements, and with reflections on the natural world from Kendal campus residents.
  • Reviews and categorizes videos, movies, and book recommendations on climate change, biodiversity, and hope.
  • Coordinates content and assists with recommendations for, SSAFE’s website.
  • Attends to our communities’ deeper existential and spiritual needs to help one another retain and strengthen hope even as the climate crisis worsens.
  • Helps select speakers for the SSAFE General Committee meeting on the topics of hope and inspiration.
  • Encourages and assists SSAFE members at each Kendal campus in their development of Earth Day activities that inform and inspire fellow residents in environmental topics relating to SSAFE’s mission.

Greening Our Campuses:

  • Addresses energy efficiency and carbon footprint calculations across the Kendal communities.
  • Shares a wide range of campus sustainability projects including landscaping, food systems, composting, recycling, and even beekeeping.
  • Looks closely at the “critical path” to carbon neutrality.
  • Questions being addressed:
    • What does ”carbon footprint” mean?
    • How can we calculate our carbon footprint?
    • How can we reduce the use of carbon-intensive fuels and switch to green energy sources?
    • How can we evaluate our buildings’ energy efficiency and fuel sources?
    • What are good strategies for working with our local administrations to identify and address the most urgent local sustainability issues?