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“The character of a country is defined by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens”

By Nicolás Peña

Washington, D.C. December 2017.- “Let’s work together to make sure that all seniors can age in serenity and dignity, knowing that they are secure and cared for by the people, community, and nation that they served for so long. The character of a country is defined by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens”, highlighted Dr. Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), during NHCOA’s Annual Awards Dinner and Fundraiser.

It was a special celebration held at the Mexican Cultural Institute to honor dedicated people, who have made meaningful and lasting contributions in the field of aging.

Launching its annual Hall of Fame, NHCOA revealed the “Class of 2017,” which was inducted during the gala. Following are the inaugural members:

  • Alejandro Garcia a former chair of the National Hispanic Council on Aging Board of Directors.
  • Carmela Lacayo is the founder and current President and CEO of the National Association for Hispanic Elderly.
  • Fernando Torres-Gil is well recognized and respected academic who currently serves as a Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at UCLA.
  • Josefina Carbonell is the Senior Vice President of Long-Term Care and Nutrition at Independent Living Systems (ILS).
  • (†) Marta Sotomayor was a founder, and the first executive director of the National Hispanic Council on Aging.
  • (†) Ophelia Sandoval Rinaldi was a founder and former board member of the National Hispanic Council on Aging.
  • Raul Yzaguirre is an American civil rights activist who has made significant contributions to the aging field.

The first award of the night was The Special Recognition Award to Congressman Raul Ruiz, for his commitment to improving the health of diverse populations. “On behalf of the thousands of Hispanic older adults we serve, Our Board of Directors, and our Business Advisory Council members, I want to express our gratitude for all the support, guidance, and leadership of Congressman Raul Ruiz”, said Dr. Cruz, who presented the award.

During the award ceremony, the Assistant Secretary for Aging and ACL’s Administrator, Lance Robertson, highlighted the importance of supporting families and caregivers, protecting rights and preventing abuse, connecting people to resources, expanding employment opportunities, and strengthening the aging and disability networks.

AARP, honoring its social commitment, became one of the most important partners for NHCOA this past year. During the gala and on behalf of the National Hispanic Council on Aging, Yvette Peña, AARP’s Vice President for Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy presented The Caregiving AARP Service Award to José Acarón, State Director of AARP Puerto Rico.

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) has been an important partner to NHCOA, and Dr. Matthew Lin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Director of the OMH at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was honored with The Special Recognition Award for his commitment to improving the health of diverse populations.

John Feather, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Grantmakers  In Aging (GIA), accepted the 2017 Ophelia Rinaldi Lifetime Achievement Award that recognizes Dr. Feather’s decades of work in philanthropy, gerontology, education, and his commitment to improving the lives of older adults, and his past service on the board of the National Hispanic Council on Aging.

The Outstanding Community Service Award went to Blanca Stumpo for demonstrating excellence, innovation and commitment to the wellbeing of Hispanic older adults.

The Entrepreneurship Recognition Award went to Abimarlee Martinez, Marketing Manager for Telemundo Washington D.C.,  for her commitment to advancing and innovating public and private partnership to improve the wellbeing of our society, and the President’s Award went to Claudia Carravetta, AbbVie’s Director for Government Affairs, for her strong commitment to supporting policy and programs valuable to Hispanic families.

Television personality, public speaker, and activist Marco Antonio Regil served as Master of Ceremony of NHCOA’s Annual Awards Dinner. Mr. Regil shared his experience as a caregiver in a viewing of “Cada Paso del Camino” a documentary produced by AARP.

The Fundraising Session was guided by Dr. Anderson Torres, the President of R.A.I.N. TOTAL CARE, INC. R.A.I.N. Services include: 12 Full-Service Senior Centers, Home Delivered Meals, Home Care Services serving Homebound Persons of all ages, Integrated Care Coordination, Housing, Case Management, Advocacy, Support Groups for the Elderly and their Caregivers, Alzheimer’s initiatives, Transportation and Intergenerational programs.

NHCOA’s Annual Awards Dinner was sponsored by: AARP, Abbott, Anthem, AbbVie, America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies- GOBOLDLY, Compassion & Choices, Herbalife, Pfizer, Verizon and UnitedHealthcare.