Past Free Webinar – A Community-Based Approach to Social Connections – September 21st, 2023

Earn 1 hr CEU, pre-approved for Social Workers by BOSW; self-submit other disciplines.
MGS is an approved Continuing Education Resource by the MN Board of Nursing.
(The CEU is free for MGS members; $15 for non-members.

Handout Sep 21 MGS Webinar

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, fostering meaningful relationships and genuine human connections has never been more critical, particularly among older adults. Social isolation and loneliness have long had a hold on aging communities. There is now an unprecedented opportunity to meaningfully change the situation.

This presentation will highlight a new framework by which individual providers and community health specialists can assess social isolation and loneliness. Within this framework, collected and analyzed local data support the implications of findings about social connections. Specific projects, designed to show how a community came together to address the problems identified, are highlighted. The initiatives, Project Blue Star and Men’s Shed’s, originating within the St Cloud Community, as well as additional collaborative efforts, can potentially be expanded across Minnesota.

Building connection and purpose among older adults, using a community-based grassroots approach, has been found to be most effective when addressing social isolation and loneliness.


  1. Frame social isolation and loneliness through the lens of “Social Connection” which encompasses three components of social connections:
    •  Structural
    • Functional
    • Quality
  2. Establish the importance of local data (CentraCare, n=83,135) to assess the impact of social isolation (structural impediments to social connection) on community health.
  3. Demonstrate how targeted community programs can address these issues and invite attendees to get involved.

Steve Hoover, PhD; Healthy Aging Coordinator, Central Minnesota Council on Aging

Steve Hoover, PhD works part-time as the Healthy Aging Coordinator for the Central Minnesota Council on Aging. He recently retired after 29 years from St. Cloud State University where he was a professor in counseling and educational psychology and taught courses in stress management, research, statistics as well as in developmental and educational psychology.

Dr. Hoover created the Social Connect program to address social isolation and loneliness along with creating the Greater St. Cloud Area Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness. Most recently, he started the Greater St. Cloud Men’s Shed.

Dr. Hoover also teaches classes for seniors including Tai Ji Quan, Moving for Better Balance; Aging Mastery; Mindful Presence: Compassionate Care for Self and Others; the National Diabetes Prevention Program; and Health Coaching for Hypertension.

Fyzeen Ahmad; University of Minnesota; Project Blue Star

Fyzeen Ahmad is an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota studying neuroscience and computer science. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Project Blue Star, an organization running intergenerational programs that emphasize interaction between young adults and seniors to address loneliness, social isolation, and ageism.

Fyzeen is the Undergraduate Chair of the Aging Studies Interdisciplinary Group (ASIG) at UMN, an undergraduate researcher in the UMN Computational Visual Neuroscience Lab, and a research fellow at WashU School of Medicine in St. Louis.