Focusing on Needs of Older Immigrants Leads to Specialized Programs

Prior to partnering with Next50 Initiative, the Hispanic Affairs Project (HAP) hadn’t put much thought into how the needs of the older clients they served might differ from those of younger clients. The grassroots organization, which supports immigrant integration in Western Colorado, had always served older adults, but focusing specifically on this group was eye-opening.

Older adults were concerned about the lack of stability and security they might face when they were no longer able to work. Many who’d spent years paying into Social Security and Medicare needed help navigating the permanent residency or naturalization processes that would ensure they could access these benefits. Older adults living in mobile home parks were facing increasing housing costs at a time when they had fewer options for growing their income.

With support from Next50, HAP created specific goals for serving the older immigrant community. Through educational events, targeted communications, legal assistance, resource navigation, and leadership development, their older clients have had greater access to resources and felt more connected and empowered to speak up about the challenges they face.

“Older adults really add a lot to the community we work with—through their wisdom, experience, and commitment to family,” said Karen Sherman Perez, HAP’s Community Relations & Development Director. “Our older population has always been actively engaged in our work and thanks to their participation, we’ve had a more visible impact in our efforts to advocate for equitable change.”

Sherman Perez credits HAP’s success in working with immigrants in part to the organization’s focus on building relationships and trust. Trust—including the flexibility to use grant funds as needed to support older clients—is a key piece of what’s made the partnership with Next50 Initiative work, as well. “We are learning as we go and oftentimes need to shift what we are doing because we hear about new community priorities,” said Sherman Perez.

To read this and other stories of how Next50 Initiative grant dollars had a positive impact on older adults in 2022, please visit our 2022 Impact Report.

Juana and Marcelino Garcia of Montrose share a message about the importance of “liberty” for HAP’s Immigrant Heritage Month gathering on June 20, 2022. Community members received an Immigrant Heritage Month proclamation from the Montrose City Council and, afterward, shared thoughts on the important contributions of immigrants to our community and nation. Top of page: Angela Uribe of Montrose, who became a U.S. citizen with support from HAP’s immigration legal assistance program, shares a message about “tranquility.” Photos: Hispanic Affairs Project.