Marcia Kerz is President of OASIS, a national nonprofit organization that strengthens communities by providing lifelong learning, health and service opportunities that inspire diverse audiences of adults age 50 and older to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Kerz oversees 25 OASIS centers throughout the United States.
With over 20 years experience in non-profit administration, Marcia has been actively involved with the International Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), serves on the international board and chairs the Government Relations Committee. She is a member of the National Council on Aging’s Leadership Council and served as a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Illinois State University and taught special education for five years.
Q. Why did OASIS decide to join Age4Action?
OASIS’ vision is to strengthen communities through opportunities for lifelong learning and service that inspire diverse audiences of people 50+ to pursue vibrant, healthy, productive, and meaningful lives. OASIS believes the 50+ population is one of the greatest assets this country has and thinks it imperative to find ways to benefit from their talents, experience, and wisdom for the betterment of society. With more than 600 partnerships in 27 cities and close to 400,000 members, OASIS develops its programs to challenge the mind, improve health, allow people to connect with others, and build skills, a good match for the Age4Action Network!
Age4Action provides OASIS a way to connect with a sophisticated network of organizations, learn about other civic-engagement models, and find ways to engage its network in advocating for programs, initiatives, and policies in the best interests of the 50+ population.
Q. What is the latest new from OASIS that Age4Action members would want to know about?
As part of its evidence-based Connections technology curriculum, OASIS developed Connections at Work, a focused set of computer courses prepared specifically to help older adults re-enter the workforce or improve their technological work skills. This workforce track includes essential courses, such as Introduction to Computers and introductory and intermediate courses in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. OASIS continues to update all Connections courses annually to keep pace with changes in Internet technologies and application software and trains volunteer instructors to teach the classes. The organization plans to increase the volunteer pool in 2011 to reach a broader audience.
OASIS, in partnership with the WellPoint Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, is implementing CATCH Healthy Habits, a unique intergenerational program focusing on physical activity and nutrition that benefits two generations — adults age 50+ and children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. The after-school program uses CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health), an evidence-based, nationally recognized program proven to increase healthy behaviors in children. Mature adults act as volunteer mentors. The program fosters successful aging by promoting physical activity and healthy eating for the adults and involving them in meaningful community service. OASIS will implement the program in 18 cities over two years.
Q. Within the civic-engagement and older-adult movement, what would you say is the biggest unmet need and how can Age4Action have an impact?
We need to develop a cohesive voice in support of people 50. OASIS has access to a large number of people 50+ and more than 7,000 people volunteer in their communities through our organization. We continue to find the most challenging issue to be how to best engage this rich resource in advocating for improved policies and initiatives that enrich the lives of older adults.