SWAP (Seniors With A Purpose)
By Jack Matlock and Don Morman
June 2002  www.sdbuzz.com


In the needs assessment for GLBT seniors, one the most important was affordable housing. With this in mind some of your SWAP "snoops" has begun an investigation. We discovered a most charming "settlement" named Azalea Park. A few days ago Jack and Don (and Mac, a guest from Toledo) made contact with Thom Turner, President of Azalea Park Housing Association, and he invited us for a tour. When we drove out to the area, we were a little "shocked" to find it nestled in an area which has been in the process of decay for many years, AND WERE WE SURPRISED. (Toni Atkins, council person for that district, has had a very positive impact too)

Over the past couple of years the area has been "inundated" by gay and lesbian couples and singles, and they have created a "miracle of beauty" with some reconstruction and much landscaping effort. But, the greatest positive impression we received was the relationships that have been developed between the GLBT' s and the straight residents, and Thom seems to know them all. We observed many small groups in front and back yards talking and laughing and having much "serious" fun in discussing what they were planning to do next. It was the willingness to share the work, ladders and tools with each other that was most impressive and a part of the planned improvement. One of the residents, in recognizing that we were of the older generation, said, "We have some older people in Azalea Park, and we make a point of offering our help with any of the projects that might be too difficult, and we include them in all of our events." Wow! Were we impressed with that! 

It was easy to discern the GLBT's from the straights, but it was impossible to detect any feelings of discrimination. They all seemed to be such a part of each other, and that was a MIRACLE TO BEHOLD. 

For a colorful website of information click on www.azaleapark.org and hit any of the many links that are listed. "Events" will describe the "Tour of the Project" scheduled for the Sunday, August 4, after the Pride Parade and Festival (The Azalea Park Project will not only have a float in the parade but will also have a booth at the festival). The tour is open for all to see the beauty of the redevelopment and to participate in the interaction of the residents (S-G&L's). The website (www.AzaleaPark.org) also has directions and a map. For further information: info@azaleapark.org

This is a SWAP "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED." - www.sdbuzz.com