The population of the U.S. continues to change. Not only is the population 65 plus growing at a rapid rate with the aging of the boomers, the cultural makeup is also changing. African American and Hispanic/Latino populations, in particular, are growing with many communities or states experiencing a major growth in these populations.
In response AARP has initiated community outreach efforts to either African American or Hispanic/Latino populations in cities experiencing such growth across the country.
Here in New Mexico, Albuquerque was identified as a community where additional efforts are being made to reach out to Hispanics/Latinos on issues and concerns that are most important to them. This effort supplements multicultural outreach work in the state.
As part of its multicultural outreach, AARP New Mexico plans to schedule a series of listening sessions, entitled Red or Green, designed to learn more about the issues Hispanic residents in Albuquerque are interested in and provide a platform for sharing ideas. AARP also seeks volunteers interested in helping with this new initiative.
“AARP wants to raise its visibility among the Hispanic population while trying to learn what their needs are,” said Shanna Lapsley, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director Multi Cultural Outreach.
“New Mexico is a very diverse state and our communities reflect that. We want to share the resources and information that AARP has while also discovering how we can leverage those resources on issues that are important to people at the local level,” Lapsley said.
“Many people see AARP as on organization that only sells insurance and we do so much more than that. We work on issues that really help improve people’s lives right here in New Mexico. AARP opposed the reinstatement of the gross receipts tax on food, worked with legislators to prevent predatory home loans, we watch over utility rate increases and try to ensure that Medicaid is funded adequately,” she said.
“These are the kinds of issues that we need more feedback on – what issues do you need help working on; how can we help you make your community better,” Lapsley said.
“To begin learning about a community, you must have a presence in that community and talk to people from various backgrounds – that’s where the volunteers come in. They can represent AARP at community meetings and events, identify partners and really begin building relationships,” she said.
AARP participates in a variety of community events such as South Valley Pride Day, Project Heart Start, held annually at Isotopes Baseball Park, health fairs, and educational forums on number of issues. Volunteers traditionally spearhead these events as either presenters or visiting with people and handing out information.
The Red and Green listening sessions will provide an informal venue on a smaller scale where people can gather to share their ideas, thoughts or concerns about pretty much anything.
“We might start off by sharing information on Social Security, finances or health care to give the discussions some structure but there would be plenty of time to have a free flow of conversation on anything of concern,” Lapsley said.
Anyone interested in volunteering or hosting a Red and Green listening session should contact Shanna at 505-603-6101 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although the listening sessions are still in the planning stages, once finalized, they will be listed on the AARP New Mexico website so you can find one scheduled in your neighborhood.
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