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Empowerment and Engagement for area Latinos: Maryland joins NHCOA Leadership Network

By Nicolás Peña

Washington, D.C. August, 2017.- Creating awareness among the community about Hispanic older adults, eradicating their isolation, gaining access to public transportation, proposing ideas to avoid the increase of housing costs, and establishing mechanisms to obtain accurate and timely information on immigration policies were some of the topics chosen and developed by the participants of the Empowerment and Civic Engagement Training ( ECET) , facilitated by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), which was held in Silver Springs over three days in August the 15th through 17th.

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More than 40 participants residing in Montgomery County, MD, attended this intensive program, supported by the county’s Department of Health and Human Services through its Office of Aging and Disability Services and the TESS Community Center.

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“NHCOA is continuing to expand its Hispanic Aging Network through development of these leaders. There are thousands nationwide who have already completed this same program. I am very proud of the interest, engagement, and participation of the Montgomery County participants. During their training and evaluation they prepared effective and relevant proposals that will undoubtedly have a positive impact across their communities”, said Dr. Yanira Cruz, president of NHCOA.

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This training was part of NHCOA Regional Conference: Empowering Communities to Age With Dignity, culminating with an Aging with Dignity Town Hall that brought together more than 150 people that included members of the older adult population as well as elected officials, social advocates, and service providers.

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This linguistically and culturally safe space gave those present the opportunity to discuss solutions to issues such as economic insecurity, hunger, and unaffordable housing, with special emphasis on hispanic caregiving.

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Latino low-income family caregivers spend about 44% of their income on caregiving, therefore NHCOA is working to create awareness about the need to approve the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act.

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“It is crucial that Hispanics become involved in this initiative and urge Congress to act on this bill to help the nation’s 40 million family caregivers. The RAISE Family Caregivers Act would require the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. Our goal is to propose a national strategy that supports and meets the real needs of Hispanic families who care for their loved ones. Representatives from the office of Senator Chris Van Hollen, as well from the office of Council member Roger Berliner attended this Town Hall which provided crucial support from both a local and state level”, said Dr. Cruz.

The following outlines speakers and panelists and sponsors who participated and made this program possible:

Speakers:

Dorinda Adams; Programs Manager for the Office of Adults Services at Maryland Department of Human Services.

Myisha Gatson; PhRMA / NHCOA’s Business Advisory Council.

Karen Hendricks; representative of the Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen.

Yvett Peña; AARP VP – Multicultural Leadership Hispanic.

Clarence “Tiger” Davis; State President AARP-MD.

Panelists:

Josephine Kalipeni, Policy Director of Caring Across Generations.

Margarita Navas, NHCOA.

Amy Goyer, Aging, Home & Family Expert from AARP.

Jason Resendez, Executive Director of Latinos Against Alzheimer’s Coalition.

Ana Nelson, Vice President of Programs and Services, Alzheimer’s Association.

Dr. Alex Vigo Office of Minority Health.

Alex Kent from Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders.

Closing remarks were provided by –

Dr. John “Jay” Kenney, Chief of Aging & Disability Services.

Margaret O’ Bryon, NHCOA Board Member and founder of Accelerating Change Group and Assistant Research Professor at McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University.

Sponsors:

The 2017 NHCOA Regional Conference in Silver Spring, Maryland was sponsored by: AARP, the Hartford Foundation, the Alzheimer Association, Verizon, Matrix, Phrma, Abbvie, Abbott, Eli Lilly, Better Medicare Alliance, Social Security Administration, Amerigroup, Health Foundation of South Florida, Independent Living Systems Inc, Montgomery County, Archstone Foundation, Herbalife, Univision and Office of Minority Health ( OMH).