By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor
Tucker, GA — The city of Tucker was designated as an Age-Friendly City by the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, 2018, thanks to years of dedication from Tucker Civic Association’s Lifelong Community Committee. Now the group is working to complete a plan to maintain their status, and they need volunteers.
WHO, together with AARP, recognizes only six cities in Georgia as age-friendly, a distinction indicating communities are livable for all ages and abilities. The plan is a chance to give renewed importance to the basics of a livable community, such as education opportunities, safety for all, availability of housing and social and civic connection.
Mayor Frank Auman wrote in In Tucker magazine, “We like seeing young couples move in here as much as the next city does. But you know what’s even better? When we create a place where that young couple can raise their children, become empty nesters, retire and live out their days all in the same place.”
Tucker’s population is around 36,000. Official records from the 2020 US Census are due out late this year. Seventeen percent of Tucker’s population is 65 and older; of that group, 6% is 80 and older.
The goal of Lifelong Community is to help Tucker to be a city in which people stay for life. Lifelong Community partners with the Atlanta Regional Commission to receive grants and funding for age-friendly parks, housing, social experiences and more.
“We get a lot of suggestions for things to be done. Now we need the people to do them,” said Lois Ricci, chair of Lifelong Community.
Her Massachusetts accent is as thick as New England clam chowder, but Ricci is a longtime Tucker resident and avid volunteer. Ricci is a geriatric nurse practitioner and professor of gerontology. She serves on the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) advisory committee on aging and AARP’s Executive Council, and she serves as chair of Tucker Civic Association’s Lifelong Community Committee.
Ricci and her team of volunteers – including Joe Scarpaci, Albert and Mary Still, Guy Van Ort, Steve Hagen, Vicki Warren, Pam Sapp, Rebecca Rissel, Margaret Bartholemew, Linda Clark and Kathy Forster – meet monthly to report on progress in eight domains required by WHO. Recently, Lifelong Community was awarded grants to install handrails on the stairs leading to businesses on Main Street; install Marta bus stop seating and create a walkway and storage unit at Henderson Park; and install raised beds and a storage unit at Probst Park (formerly Smoke Rise Park).
According to ARC, a lifelong community provides housing and transportation options that are affordable and accessible to all ages; encourages healthy lifestyles by designing safe, walkable communities; and expands access to necessary services in the 10-county Atlanta region.
Lifelong Community piloted the Georgia Department of Public Health Yellow Dot safety program, a project that provides education and safety packets with yellow dots to residents. More than 500 Tucker residents participate to let first responders know crucial information in an emergency, like medical conditions, severe allergies, or to look for a special needs child who lives in the home.
“Lifelong and age-friendly are not terms about aging or old people. Our committee has people of all ages. Both terms refer to being able to live in a community from youth to old age. It’s what we all have in common,” said Ricci.