Giving testimony: Or why our hands-on experience with immigrant seniors is so valuable

India Home is on the ground every program day dealing with the unique concerns of our community of immigrant seniors. We know their needs. We understand their anxieties. We speak their language and our seniors talk to us. We know the trouble our seniors have with the lack of good transportation options or the difficulties they have accessing case management services that are culturally appropriate (that understand South Asian cultures) and linguistically appropriate (that communicate in a South Asian language our seniors understand). This is why India Home makes it a point to testify and advocate for our immigrant seniors at various committee meetings with NY city’s council members and departments.

420-seniors-bus-stop-transportation-guide.imgcache.rev1309282307387.webOn February 26, we testified at a joint session of the Committee on Aging and Committee on Immigration on Serving Immigrant Seniors through NORCs. NORC is an acronym for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. Neighborhood NORCs provide a variety of supportive services to seniors, like case assistance, health care assistance, education, volunteering opportunities and so on. However, many immigrants, like our members, don’t feel comfortable attending existing NORCs because they are not culturally relevant or don’t have staff that speak their language.
India Home assured Committee Chairs, Margaret Chin and Carlos Menchacha, that given our cultural competencies and the fact that we have staff that speak several South Asian languages, we were well-equipped to provide services to NORC’s and neighborhood NORC’s.

At the Preliminary Budget Hearing for Fiscal Year 2017 on March 3rd, we met with the Committee on Aging and Sub-committee on Senior Centers, including Council Members Paul Vallone and Margaret Chin. This time we testified about the issues seniors have with transportation and lack of social workers.

Our seniors in Eastern Queens have trouble getting public transportation to come to the centers. India Home had a bus, but the costs of operating it were so high, we couldn’t keep the service going. Even those who do use services like Access-A-Ride, have to deal with the long waits and sudden cancelations. Council Member Paul Vallone offered to work with us on the transportation issue.