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Highlighting Latino community outreach, resources

Alicia Colombo

By Mary Anna Rodabaugh

National Hispanic Heritage Month in September is the perfect opportunity to highlight the many valuable resources available to support the unique cultural needs of the Latino community. PCA works to foster connection between community resources and Philadelphia’s older adult ethnic and cultural minority communities.

“What I enjoy the most is making sure the Latino community has access to resources, and I am able to make those connections, whether it is resources within PCA or the community,” says Lissette Sarfraz, PCA’s Latino outreach coordinator. “When I’m helping them navigate the system, it is almost like helping my grandparents in a way.”

Many of those resources come from PCA’s Latino Advisory Council, which is comprised of professionals and volunteers who work with Latino older adults. The devoted members represent various social service, nonprofit and community agencies. The council meets quarterly to discuss aging-services resources, plan events and explore any issues that Latino older adults may be facing.

Many older adult Latinos struggle with finding proper health care and guidance. To combat these barriers, Sarfraz attends community health fairs and translates information from PCA’s Community Relations Department into Spanish.

Latino older adults and their caregivers who call PCA’s Helpline at 215-765-9040 have access to Spanish-speaking staff who can assist with a variety of needs. PCA’s website at offers automatic translation in Spanish and 14 other various languages.

Bilingual senior centers
When you are looking to participate in activities and events with older adults who share parts of your heritage, a senior community center can be the perfect place to forge new friendships and enhance an active lifestyle. Philadelphia is home to several predominantly Spanish-speaking senior centers that offer activities older adult Latinos can enjoy.

Norris Square Senior Community Center, located at 2121 N. Howard St. in North Philadelphia and operated by Catholic Housing and Community Services, offers opportunities for socialization, recreation, physical exercise, education and nutritional support.

“It is great because Norris Square Senior Community Center prepares meals that are culturally familiar to the (Latino) community,” Sarfraz says.

For more information, call 215-423-7241 or visit

Mann Older Adult Center, temporarily housed in Juniata Older Adult Center at 1251 East Sedgley Ave. in the Northeast, offers recreational trips, in-house events, and access to food and wellness services. Latino older adults can feel at home knowing there are plenty of Spanish-speaking staff and participants. For more information, call 215-685-9844.

Health and wellness resources
Finding proper health care and navigating the complicated pathways through Medicare can be cumbersome for older adults and their caregivers. The Maria de Santos Health Center, located at 401 W. Allegheny Ave., offers community-focused health care, including preventive care, podiatry, dental and more. The center accepts all insurances and has a sliding-fee discount scale for patients who meet certain income eligibility requirements. For more information, call 215-291-2500 or visit

Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) is a Latino-based health, human services, community and economic development nonprofit organization serving the Philadelphia area. Located at 1900 N. 9th St., APM offers behavioral health and emergency resources. Translation is provided. For more information about AMP’s programs and initiatives to benefit Latino older adults and families, call 267-296-7200 or visit

In addition to health care resources, Sarfraz says the Latino population is also under-represented in clinical research studies. For that reason, she serves on the clinical advisory board for the University of Penn Nursing Tiempo Junotos para la Salud (Time Together for Health) Research Study. This new study addresses the National Institute on Aging’s strategic goals by promoting safe and structured opportunities for physical activity among Spanish-speaking Latinos 55 and older. According to the American Psychological Association, cardiovascular diseases are second highest cause of death for Latinos, behind cancer. For more information about the study, contact Adriana Perez, PhD, ANP-BC, FAAN, associate professor of nursing at University of Pennsylvania at 215-746-1840 or go to

PCA coordinates Asian, African/Caribbean, Latino, and clergy/interfaith advisory councils that include a network of Philadelphia organizations providing culturally appropriate resources to the city’s older adults. These advisory councils each meet quarterly and also come together annually for a joint meeting. Council members contribute expertise and provide specific information regarding the needs of their communities. For more information about resources and services for Philadelphia’s ethnic and minority older adults, contact the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.

Additional resources
There are many additional resources available for Latino older adults. These include:

  • The Latino Partnership Initiative of Philadelphia Prevention Partnership works to improve the quality of life for Latinos in Philadelphia, serving as a catalyst to unify, build, advocate and implement a comprehensive common agenda. 1600 Church St. | 215-613-7013 |
  • HACE, a nonprofit community development organization, has created a supportive community for older adults through the development of affordable rental housing and construction of a Life Center that provides older adults with social and health services so they can remain at home as long as possible. The Network of Care program at HACE helps older adults complete the paperwork necessary to access services, advocates on their behalf, and provides links to outside resources. 167 W. Allegheny Ave., Suite 200 | 215- 426-8025 |
  • Concilio serves as a catalyst for maintaining and celebrating the cultural heritages and histories of diverse Latino communities. It offers numerous resources, educational programs and cultural. 141 E. Hunting Park Ave. | 215-627-3100 |
  • Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller) describes itself as “the cultural heart of Latino Philadelphia” and dedicates itself to elevating and preserving Puerto Rican and Latino culture through arts and cultural programming. For over four decades, the Taller’s Lorenzo Homar Gallery has been the region’s only gallery dedicated to Puerto Rican and Latinx Art, highlighting contemporary artists from Philadelphia, the nation and Puerto Rico. 2600 N. 5th St. | Art gallery hours: Monday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | 215-426-3311 |
  • The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has an Office for Hispanic Catholics that offers events, programs and support to Latino Catholics of all ages in Philadelphia. 222 N. 17th St., 8th Floor | 215-667-2820 | Bilingual (English/Spanish) website:

Mary Anna Rodabaugh is a writer, editor and writing coach

Categories: Education Milestones eNews


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