Multicultural Programs Win from New York, L.A. and Chicago

Article excerpt

"When my wife of 42 years passed away, I was alone and scared. After funeral expenses, there wasn't much left of our lifelong savings. The bills started to pile up and my landlord threatened eviction," said Mr. Gonzalez (a pseudonym), a client of One Stop Senior Services. This 72-yearold man in New York City's Upper West Side found help at the agency, which included his story in its 2007 annual report.

He continued, "They spoke with my landlord to halt eviction proceedings and assisted me in applying for benefits, such as Medicare, Food Stamps and Social Security. My caseworker referred me to a local bereavement support group and gave me a listing of senior centers in my area. She continues to follow up and calls me to ask how I'm doing. Because of One Stop, I'm no longer afraid to live on my own."


One Stop is one of three programs that received Network of Multicultural Aging Awards from the American Society on Aging (ASA), presented in collaboration with the AARP Foundation at AS As recent national conference in Washington, D.C.

One Stop meets the social service needs of isolated, impoverished and underserved New Yorkers ages 60 and older. According to One Stop Executive Director Ruth-Ellen Simmonds, "Our mission is to improve their lives by providing essential human services and access to rightful entitlements and benefits-all in one convenient neighborhood location."

Each year, One Stop .helps nearly 3,000 elders resolve issues of housing, immigration, bankruptcy, bill payments and financial elder abuse, to name a few. Since its inception in 1981, One Stop has provided its free services to more than 50,000 older adults. The agency staff visits clients in their homes or welcomes them at One Stop's walk-in center as often as needed.

The organization offers a range of programs and services, such as assistance in obtaining benefits and entitlements, elder-abuse intervention and prevention, and an in-depth care management program for the frailest elders.

One Stop also set up its Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Enrollment Center to assist clients in the confusing process of choosing the most appropriate Medicare plan. In addition, the program holds a yearly tax clinic where seniors can receive assistance in filing their tax returns.

Program Director Carmen Escobar noted, "On any given day, the One Stop waiting room is filled to capacity with a 'melting pot' of seniors from various backgrounds." She added, "Because so many of our clients are diverse, all client service workers are bilingual in Spanish and English, and one speaks French/Creole to better serve our Haitian clients."

For more information about One Stop, call (212) 864-7900, ext. 14; e-mail:; website: www.onestopseniorservices. org.


Be Well, a program of the Inglewood, Calif., Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department in the Los Angeles area, is an exercise and weight-management program designed for older people with chronic health conditions who are also at high nutritional risk. "These seniors were quite frail, often taking numerous medications for hypertension, diabetes and other conditions," said Senior Programs and Services Manager Sikizi Allen-Wagne. At intake, she said, older adults in the program are quite sedentary and a significant number use canes.

Established in 2003, Be Well has helped more than 250 elders improve self-management of their health, reduce hospitalizations, improve their quality of life and remain independent, said Bonnie Hart, president of Food and Nutrition Management Services, who helped develop Be Well. The program provides participants, who average age 74, an initial health assessment, including laboratory tests, to establish baseline, and the staff conducts interim and final outcome measurements.

Be Well offers an individual consultation for each client with medical and nutrition professionals, who assist participants in developing a master plan with specific exercise and nutrition goals, such as daily exercise or increasing the number of pedometer steps taken per day. …