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AARP South Florida Leader Honored for Empowering Community

En español | AARP Florida’s Ivonne Fernandez has been recognized as a member of the 2011 class of “Hispanic Women of Distinction” in Miami, one of 12 Hispanic women community leaders to earn among the Hispanic community’s highest honors in South Florida.

Fernandez is to be recognized at an Aug. 12 luncheon and charity fund-raising fashion show in Davie for her work with AARP in engaging older Hispanic Floridians in the life of the Miami community.

“More than 50 years ago, AARP’s founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, created our association so that older Americans could come together to improve the lives of all generations,” said AARP Florida Interim State Director Jeff Johnson. “Ivonne has taken Dr. Andrus’s ideals and made them a reality in Miami. I know Dr. Andrus would be proud to see another strong and courageous woman like Ivonne following her example of leadership and service.”

A pioneer in working with older Hispanic area residents, Fernandez helped develop a new AARP model of community engagement, the “Café Con Leche” groups now dotting senior communities in Miami-Dade County. Organized and led by trained volunteer leaders called “baristas,” the groups bring together hundreds of Hispanic residents to learn about federal, state and community issues, pick up helpful tips on health and financial security, join in community-service projects and have a great time together while doing good for the community.

Fernandez also is the host of a widely heard South Florida Spanish-language radio series also called “Café Con Leche, airing on the La Nueva radio station. Four times weekly, Fernandez provides information about important national, state and community events, interviews distinguished guests, passes along helpful tips on health and finances and encourages older listeners to become involved in improving their community.

Fernandez and AARP’s South Florida team also have built a strong network of AARP volunteers, who turn out by the hundreds to take on challenging community-service projects, cleaning up parks, participating in food drives and undertaking projects that benefit older South Florida residents.

AARP’s efforts to engage older Hispanic residents in South Florida has led scores of area residents to volunteer their time in a range of programs offered by community allies and also AARP, ranging from the fraud-fighting Senior Medicare Patrol to AARP Driver Safety and AARP Tax-Aide. Volunteers recruited and trained by Fernandez and other AARP team members also are advocating on key state and federal issues with South Florida legislators, members of Congress and the U.S. Senate and key policymakers in local government. Their efforts help bring the voices of hundreds of thousands of older Floridians to policymakers on issues ranging from strengthening Social Security and Medicare to helping residents remain in their homes and communities as they grow older.

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