Today we are wasting resources of incalculable value: the accumulated knowledge, the mature wisdom, the seasoned experience, the skilled capacities, the productivity of a great and growing number of our people -- our senior citizens.
Senator John F. Kennedy, 1956
Just as Bernie Nash and Marv Taves finished packing up the van, lightning appeared overhead and the thunderstorm predicted all day for Washington, D.C., began unloading heavy rain on the city. Already soaked from carrying twenty-two boxes of applications in the July humidity, Nash and Taves climbed into the van and headed out from HEW (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) headquarters to Sargent Shriver's office across the city. Their appointment with Shriver was for 4:30, but they pulled up to headquarters for the War on Poverty just a few minutes after 4:00. The rain was still coming down steadily.
Parked in a loading zone, they started hauling the cardboard boxes up the stairs to Shriver's outer office, hurrying in vain to keep the boxes from getting drenched. After a dozen trips up and down the stairs, it was hard to tell whether the beads of water running down Bernie Nash's forehead were sweat or rain. Both men were wringing wet and breathing heavily. But they were, characteristically, on time, seated outside the office of the director of the OEO (Office of Economic Opportunity) a good ten minutes before their meeting was to start -- the boxes neatly piled in the corner, the cardboard already beginning to curl from the moisture.
Nash and Taves were meeting with Shriver to decide which agencies across the country would be selected to participate in the new Foster Grandparent Program, a War on Poverty effort that would be launched by Lyndon Johnson in just a few weeks and that was designed to pair older adults living