The Hebrew Home at Riverdale received the 2013 Outstanding Advocacy Award from LeadingAge at its national conference in Dallas last month. I had the honor of accepting the award on behalf of the organization. This award, which recognizes our leadership role in the field of elder abuse prevention for the past decade, meant a lot to us.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home is dedicated to helping elder abuse victims in many ways, from providing emergency shelter to educating the community to advocating on Capitol Hill and on the state and local levels.  We are facing a national epidemic – and it will only increase as the Baby Boomer population ages.  We must take action and never stop advocating for those who cannot.

The Hebrew Home at Riverdale successfully advocated both the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the New York State Department of Health to expand and alter their policies to prioritize senior housing applicants who are victims of elder abuse. As a result of this unwavering advocacy, we secured state funding to open The Terrace, an assisted living program on our Riverdale campus. Today, we offer long-term housing for elder abuse victims in a comfortable, home-like environment that provides healthcare, social opportunity and a safe place to call home. For some, this safety is a first in their lives.

On the federal level, the Hebrew Home advocated for HUD to permit elder abuse victims to have priority admission to our federally subsidized  low-income 202 apartment building, Hudson House. Hudson House provides apartments with amenities – close proximity to shops, nicely decorated living space and a built-in social system.

While attending the Dallas conference, I sat in the auditorium, watching the photo montage and video before accepting this award.  Each image provided a glimpse into our work and the people in our care. The photo of a woman getting her blood pressure checked. The video of another woman surrounded by the smiling and reassuring faces of our staff. Photos of elected officials visiting the Hebrew Home and learning of our mission. All of these images were gratifying and inspirational. Every day, the Hebrew Home, and the staff of the Weinberg Center, advocates.  We speak up. We take action. Ultimately, we make a difference.

I am so proud of our accomplishments, but the fight is far from over.  Our greatest hope with the receipt of this award is that long term care organizations throughout our nation will replicate our successful shelter model so that together, we can help end elder abuse.  Older Americans deserve our collective commitment.

Daniel Reingold is the president and CEO at Hebrew Home at Riverdale.