We at NFESH are pleased and proud to announce that Enid A. Borden, our Founder and CEO, is the recipient of the 2019 Arthur S. Flemming Award, an honor bestowed annually by ADvancing States (formerly the National Association of States United for Aging and Disability [NASUAD]) at the HCBS Conference, which was attended by several thousand leaders in aging and disability from across the country.
For those unfamiliar with Dr. Flemming and the award, here is some background. Since 1978, ADvancing States has chosen one individual in the field of aging to receive the award. That individual — like Dr. Flemming, who spent decades in public service and served for years as the U. S. Commissioner on Aging and who is widely acknowledged as the father of the national Aging network – is recognized for the same kind of sustained lifetime leadership and dedication that Dr. Flemming lived out.
In presenting the award on August 28 ADvancing States’ Executive Director Martha Roherty said of Enid Borden that “…she has devoted her life’s work to solving senior hunger. For nearly three decades, Borden has relentlessly led the effort first to raise public awareness about and then to find solutions to the growing problem of senior hunger in America. She coined the term the ‘hidden hungry,’ bringing the issue of senior hunger into the national dialogue… Highlighting the problem of senior hunger has set the stage for Borden to achieve her life’s mission – formulating creative and innovative solutions and then forging partnerships to ensure those solutions become reality… Borden elevated talk of local ‘food insecurity’ into a national movement to recognize and end ‘senior hunger.’”
Today Enid’s dedication to the movement and mission continues to define her life’s work, and she loves nothing more than the opportunity to share this vision with others. Because her words are as impassioned and inspiring as her life’s example, we are happy to share here just some of the remarks Enid made in accepting the Flemming Award.
“I began this journey of working on behalf of older people over 30 years ago with great expectations. I wanted to work alongside those countless dedicated folk who are doing God’s work, because they know that through this work they are ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world). But that was just a concept and a dream until I met a guy named Al on a hot July day in rural Pennsylvania. Al lived in a trailer that had no plumbing or electricity. He lived around a slew of animals that were his family. It was hot in his trailer when I went to deliver a meal to him. He had moved his mattress outside the trailer because the temperature in the trailer had reached well over 120 degrees. When I handed him his lunch I noticed that his arm had a black hole in it. He said that it was cancer that had eaten clear through to his bone. But he also told me how grateful he was for this one meal – one meal – that he would eat all day. He took the food and then proceeded to take large chunks of it with his bare hands and feed his many dogs and cats. He told me that his family had to eat too. As I left Al on that day and started walking back to my car, I turned around to take one last look at the scene because it was something that I never wanted to forget, not that I ever could. And there affixed to the window of Al’s trailer was a hand-painted note that Al had written and posted for all to see. It read, ‘God Bless America.’
“It was clearly not the America that Arthur Flemming envisioned nearly 50 years ago. Our work is far from done. There are many more who must be fed. There are many more who need to be reached and brought out of the dark days of loneliness. This award, then, is received by me more as a signal to continue the fight than as a pat on the back for a job well done. Because, indeed, the job is not done. But I will take this as a message to continue the fight to end senior hunger.”
Enid Borden will, and NFESH will. Will you carry the message and join the fight too?