Jenny Ackley’s mission is to see that older adults in Central New York are honored, respected, and valued, living with dignity and freedom from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Through her work with the Abuse in Later Life program at Vera House, Jenny does just this.
Jenny has transformed the lives of seniors in Central New York through her tireless efforts to educate and assist those who are, or who may become, victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Jenny began her career as an accounting and financial professional. Feeling a desire to give back to the community in a different way, she went back to school to obtain a Masters in Social Work at Syracuse University and then came to Vera House as an intern. Upon receiving her degree, Jenny joined Vera House as an elder abuse educator. Vera House is a comprehensive domestic and sexual violence service agency providing shelter, advocacy and counseling services for women, children and men of any age. This includes older adults who have been financially exploited, neglected or physically, sexually or emotionally abused. Today, Jenny works as the Project Coordinator at the Abuse in Later Life program at Vera House.
In her role, Jenny coordinates support services and resources for elders that have been the victims of abuse. Jenny says, “There are many cases where elders are abused and don’t have the resources or advocates to help them through such horrible experiences. And the issue is growing.”
One of her most notable achievements has been to develop the Elder Justice Committee. The committee is tasked with tackling the issues of elder abuse and has formed a local network of over 300 distinguished members of the community including district attorneys, law enforcement, social workers, medical providers, bankers, faith-based groups and many others. Jenny has been influential in paving the way for this group to communicate and regularly raise awareness about elder abuse. Jenny has also secured national funding to support the Abuse in Later Life program as well as funding for an enhanced multi-disciplinary team that discusses and assists with the most difficult cases of elder abuse in Central New York.
If Jenny is chosen as the Today’s Options Grand Champion, the $10,000 donation to Vera House will allow for the program to grow and provide additional services to elders such as housing and transportation assistance. It will also help Vera House further its outreach to the community. Vera House strives to be a safe place for all people to go, where advocates can assist clients make informed decisions in times that can be very challenging.
Through her work with Vera House, Jenny Ackley has put her heart and soul into making the community in Central New York a safer place for seniors.
“My goal is to help every older adult that comes to Vera House a bit more independent than what they were before entering the program and help ensure they have a better quality of life.”