The Power of Belonging
Engage Magazine Spring/Summer 2021

The Power of Belonging

by Melanie Ripley, Vice President of Membership, LeadingAge California

We begin life with the most crucial of needs: attachment to a caregiver, the desire to be loved, and the need to find our place in society. The fundamental desire to survive, by feeling safe in a bond with responsive adults, is an aspect of the taxonomy developed in Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” Maslow proposes that every human is motivated by physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem, and self-actualization; all of which allow that person to ultimately find comfort and security.  

Melanie RipleyOur history, and the social ties that accompany a sense of belonging, are a protective factor, which provide necessary support, allowing us to effectively cope with the challenges we face during difficult times. Learning to cope with hardships mitigates the physical and mental impact of these situations on our psyches while offering comfort in the knowledge that we do not have to deal with adversity alone.

At LeadingAge California, an association supporting the full continuum of older adult care, “belonging” this past year has meant we could lean on each other for best practice sharing. We learned through collaboration as we tested our collective limits of resilience. We found necessary comfort in supporting one another through the turbulence of media as it highlighted the anxiety and emotional upheaval caused by the pandemic. Through these challenges, we learned to value the importance of belonging to an association that formed 60 years ago with the objective of working together to advance housing, care and services for older adults in California.

Today we continue to expand our services, offering elevated opportunities for networking connections and best practice sharing. Through all of the challenges, we continue to work together to resolve issues and create a meaningful impact for care; continuity, accessibility and flexibility of services; reasonable and secure financing; affordable senior housing; healthcare; education and training programs; and workforce initiatives.  We pride ourselves in working together to support older adult research while we embrace advancements in technology through innovation and approaches. 

Vaccines and summer weather provide hope that we can once again welcome in-person reunions. We can cautiously step away from the sanctity of our home computer screens, and reflect on how heavily we’ve relied on one another for emotional stability. We can be proud of the adaptive ways we have learned to socialize, evaluate risks, manage new regulations, while creating new solutions. 

As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, we invite you, your work colleagues, and your board and residents to elevate engagement in our community of membership by:


  • Access Federal advocacy and monitoring of state and federal regulations.
  • Learn how to advocate/educate your local, state, and national officials.
  • Monitor the impact of over 180 state bills and share updates with your board.


  • Lean on LeadingAge community staff experts for guidance on organizational challenges or technical assistance.
  • Access the latest news in the field.
  • Grow Leadership skills in the EMERGE and Regional Programs.
  • Acquire licensing credits through online and in-person learning opportunities.



  • Access the Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) resources on technologies.
  • Receive information, education, and tools providers need to participate in managed care, integrated service delivery, and alternative payment models.
  • Gain resources to inspire social accountability throughout your organization.
  • Access workforce resources for services for older adults, which contain promising practices, ideas for key partnerships, tools to calculate turnover, fact sheets, and other relevant information.

We hope that especially this year, when the world seemed to turn completely upside down, we have continued to provide you, your staff, and those you serve with an enduring sense of being valued, listened to and recognized as important voices. We know that you will continue to champion aging services in our state, with LeadingAge California working right along beside you.

We thank you for choosing to BELONG to LeadingAge California. We couldn’t do it without you.