On June 12, 2018 at age 65, Howard Rodgers, formed the New Orleans Council on Aging Community Choir.
It’s an 80 member choir, ages 60 to 94, and they’re from all across the city and from all walks of life. They performed their first Jazz Fest in 2019.
Mr. Rodgers started working with seniors in New Orleans’ Hollygrove neighborhood when he was in his 20s. Today he’s the executive director of the New Orleans Council on Aging / Area Agency on Aging.
Over his 40 plus years working with older people, he came to understand how experience enables people to do more. People don’t just turn 65 and stop everything they’re doing, he says. On the contrary, Rodgers could see the talent, energy and enthusiasm of those around him, no matter how old. He knew if he could get them together, something special would come out of it.
Rodgers has experience with Gospel choir performance, having worked with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, so he leaned on that experience to bring together as many older New Orleanians as he could into a single choir. He invited members of all 14 senior centers across the city, and in doing so, he brought generations and communities together.
Howard Rodgers says he’s aged too and knows what it means to grow older. One thing he knows is that the social interaction and being active have tremendous impacts on health as people age. This choir is one way Howard Rodgers has filled both of those needs.
“Having worked with seniors my entire adult life proves to me that you never retire,” he says. “You keep going strong.”
And Howard Rodgers keeps going strong, recognizing opportunities to help seniors in Louisiana. That’s what makes him a Peoples Health Champion.
“Having worked with seniors my entire adult life proves to me that you never retire.”
If you think about it, you probably know a Champion.
A Champion may even be you. Nominate yourself or someone you know—like a relative, co-worker or neighbor—as a Peoples Health Champion.