Local leaders in aging to receive awards

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Barbara Ruben

David Gamse’s grandmother died of abuse in a nursing home while he was a college student.

“At the time that happened, I was majoring in both sociology and psychology,” Gamse said, “and that’s what led me to switch my major to gerontology. I’ve been working in the field ever since.”

After graduating, Gamse served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of South Florida’s Aging Studies Program and then worked as a senior manager at AARP.

In 1990, he assumed his present position as executive director of the Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA). The local nonprofit has grown much since then, and Gamse now manages a staff of more than 60, plus 500 volunteers.

Together they serve more than 30,000 older adults and family caregivers each year, supplying information, assisting with transportation, helping workers find employment, and providing adult day care.

Gamse is being recognized for his accomplishments with a Leadership in Aging award from Seabury Resources for Aging, formerly known as Episcopal Senior Ministries.

“David Gamse has provided vision and leadership for the Jewish Council for the Aging for more than 21 years and helped improve the lives of older adults throughout the greater Washington area through his leadership in the community,” said Joseph Resch, Seabury’s executive director.

Helping is its own reward

Gamse said he was surprised and honored by the award. “It certainly is a feel good, I’ll tell you,” he said.

“The award, or reward, I get from working really comes about from the smiles and hugs I get from seniors. That really is a terrific feeling when you’re in a direct-service charity. So this is really icing on the cake.”

Over the years, Gamse has led workshops on aging and nonprofit management for a wide range of public and private organizations, including the American Management Association, the White House Conference on Aging, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Internationally, he has represented U.S. policy on aging at United Nations conferences and programs of the Israeli Gerontological Society.

Gamse also serves on a variety of policy and research boards and commissions, and has authored many articles about productive aging and delivering services effectively.

Also being honored at Seabury’s annual benefit is the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the largest private local foundation focused exclusively on the Washington, D.C., area. The foundation is the legacy of Morris Cafritz, one of Washington’s leading commercial and residential builders from the early 1920’s to the mid-60’s, and his wife, Gwendolyn.

Over the last decade, the foundation invested more than $3 million in aging services for Washington, D.C.-area. The foundation also helped organize the Working Group on Aging, which has increased the visibility of aging issues among other area philanthropists and community leaders.

“The Foundation has been at the forefront of innovations, service delivery system improvements, and provided a backbone of support for valued programs for older adults,” Resch said.

To share in the benefit

The Leadership in Aging awards will be presented at a celebration on Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m. at the Fannie Mae Building, 3900 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 

The evening will include a cocktail reception, award presentation and auction, and will be attended by leading businesses and industry professionals in the field of aging, clergy, lay leaders of local congregations, and committed individual donors. 

Proceeds from the evening will benefit Seabury Resources for Aging’s services and will help low income older adults who need care management, meals, housing, care and help with home maintenance.

For additional information about the event or to make reservations or a contribution, call (202) 414-6313 or visit www.seaburyresources.org.