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October 24, 2007 > Elder Coalition

Elder Coalition

Community Ambassadors for Seniors

By Asha Chandra

The City of Fremont Human Services Department has a long history of partnering with community organizations serving older adults. Yet there remain a significant number of underserved seniors due to lack of awareness of services, physical isolation, inability to speak English, and cultural barriers. To help address these needs, the Department, along with six community organizations, developed the Community Ambassador Program for Seniors (CAPS), funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The six community organizations include the Centerville Presbyterian Church, the Muslim Support Network, Sikhs Engaged in Volunteer Activities, the India Community Center and the Taiwanese Senior Help Association, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

During the month of September, 27 volunteer ambassadors attended a 32 hour training session developed by the Human Services Department, San Jose State University, Stanford Geriatric Education Center, and many community organizations. Training covered topics such as active listening, housing and transportation options, and qualification for benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medi-Cal. In the future, there will be two more training sessions for new volunteer ambassadors.

CAPS is building a capacity to serve seniors and their families in their own communities, in their own language, within their own cultural norms, and will do so where seniors live, worship, socialize and learn. "These ambassadors are the bridge between their seniors and the local resources and services. They will serve their communities by making seniors and their families more aware and comfortable in accessing local services. Further, they will begin to share best practices amongst each other", stated Asha Chandra, Program Manager.

This initiative is part of the larger five year Robert Wood Johnson funded strategic project, Pathways to Positive Aging, a partnership of the City of Fremont Human Services Department and the Tri-City Elder Coalition, whose goal is to create a community where seniors will understand, choose and access culturally enriched, affordable services and opportunities that enhance their quality of life.

To become a volunteer ambassador or receive information about the CAPS program contact Asha Chandra at (510) 574-2055 or email achandra@ci.fremont.ca.us.

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