Dayle McIntosh Center’s Systems Change Advocate, Beck Levin Appointed to Senior Citizens Advisory Council
Anaheim, CA – August 3, 2023) – Change is inevitable and it is a part of life. For Dayle McIntosh Center’s (DMC) Systems Change Advocate Beck Levin (they/them/theirs), change is not just a part of life, it is a way of life, making way for continuous change. Levin will get to have a seat at the table to do just that with the appointment to The Senior Citizens Advisory Council (SCAC) which is the advisory council for the Orange County Office on Aging (OoA), the senior advisory committee for the Board of Supervisors and the designated AAA for Planning & Service Area 22, in Orange County.
“I am excited about this new opportunity. It’s a step along the path of my journey toward becoming my best self, while also working towards diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, which are also core tenants of why I do the work I do,” shares Levin.
There is a growing need for advocacy work for seniors as the population continues to expand. According to a 2020 Census and a report put out by the OC Health Care Agency, there are 405,955 U.S. born senior citizens 60+ (22% growth in ten years) and 350,277 foreign born senior citizens 60+ (40% growth in ten years) in Orange County alone. This huge population – a combination of Boomers and GenXers—is growing both by time, age and circumstance, with 24% of the older adult population identifying as people with disabilities. In 2021 seniors faced the highest death rate due to COVID and aging, and were among the most hospitalized populations in the country. The ADA added Long COVID as a disability that same year, which will contribute toward the CDC’s predication that by the end of 2024 the senior community affected by long-term effects will double.
Levin’s heightened awareness acknowledges there is much work to do to create progress for this growing population.
“There are many issues for seniors, but the most predominant is likely a lack of affordable housing. Reform in our healthcare system is also a top priority for both myself and the senior community. Healthcare is a human right, not a privilege. Not surprisingly, I am a big believer in Medicare for all. There is also the problem of greater social isolation in the senior community, which has grown with COVID. These are issues which need to be addressed on both a policy level and a social level. Overall, there needs to be a greater emphasis on the value of human life, most especially the lives of older adults and people with disabilities explains Levin.
Levin’s passion for advocacy and change cannot be merely defined in words; rather, it is a genuine care and concern, an emotional feeling, a mentality, a mindset and a belief system rooted deep from within an integrity-based intention of solution-oriented leadership which was born along their own journey. Levin explains:
“My mom inspires me and leads by example with the belief you should learn something new every day. She fights the perception of ageism by leading an active life, advocating for youth in the foster care system through the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, and learning to play piano and speak conversational Spanish. She never stops.”
While Levin may have not fallen far from the family tree in advocacy with a non-stop go-getter spirit, they do take time for self-care and celebrate time to unplug with their partner, dog and some social time playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends. Their own inspired path is one of growth, reflection, re-evaluation and change, along with a good dose of celebrating ‘wins’ in doing the right thing, “like finding a 504 American Disabilities Act (ADA) law nugget which if quoted directly and sent to the right person, could lead to big changes.”
Graduating from University of California, Irvine with a degree in English led to a move up to Northern California to work for a social media entity was only the beginning of Levin’s journey. After working for the social media company over the 2016 elections, they took a pause to reflect on what they wanted to do to improve the world. This contemplation led to working for a non-profit in San Francisco called the PRC (formerly known as the Positive Resource Center), an organization in which Levin worked as Communications Coordinator. They developed a Senior Resource Guide for people living with HIV/AIDS, which allowed them to partner with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network for feedback on the guide. It was at PRC where, Levin became inspired by Chaun Teng, then Managing Legal Director of the Benefits Counseling Program at PRC.
“(Teng’s) giving, caring, level-headed advocacy inspired me. It is how I ended up where I am. She taught me to believe in myself and my work. I later moved south to be near family. While working for a COVID testing company, I needed to fill my own cup on the side, so I participated in National Nurses United’s Medicare for All 2022 Leadership Cohort. When the Systems Change Advocate role opened up at the Dayle McIntosh Center (DMC), I applied and the rest you could say is history,” states Levin, recounting their journey.
Levin’s role at DMC has been an important one, both for the individual and systems change level of advocacy and comes at a vital time when Orange County’s senior citizens needs are expanding. DMC’s mission is access and equity by, and for, people with disabilities and older adults, one that seems like a destined piece of Levin’s journey for where they are now.
“Beck’s appointment to the Orange County Senior Citizens Advisory Council is a timely and exciting opportunity. With the Orange County aging population growing rapidly, Beck’s expertise will play a pivotal role in shaping policies and initiatives which cater to the evolving needs of older adults. This appointment aligns with DMC’s mission to support seniors as active participants in society, fostering a more inclusive future for everyone to thrive and age gracefully,” states Brittany Zazueta, Executive Director of The Dayle McIntosh Center.
While the diversified range of the senior community’s essential needs are vast covering the spectrum of everything from the homeless population itself, health, economics, and the social isolation epidemic – there is so much more imagined for the sustainable bigger picture of change itself, additionally weighing on Levin’s mind. They believe that in order for policy to change, perception must change and that redirecting anger towards systems, not individual actors, is key, along with true accessibility. Levin’s realistic perception that change takes time, people, and movement, but is possible is underlined by a desire to leave a more equitable world behind.
“I want to push the needle forward. I want to be present for my fellow humans and create an intentional space—a brave space—to move everyone forward. I want to make a future the highlights the needs of future generations while harkening on the wisdom of our elders. I always think it best to view systems change as ‘us versus a problem, not each other.’ Human life should be valued above all else.”
With Levin’s passion, heart, goals, and vision to do this work both with their newly appointed role on the Senior Citizens Advisory Council and with their role as Systems Change Advocate at DMC, their intention is sure to make an impact in the community.
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