AARP Michigan brought its listening tour to a multicultural audience in Detroit Nov. 29 to meet with 75 members and others about the Affordable Care Act.
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Helping to include everyone in the community conversation were Maria Arnaiz, a bilingual interpreter who was available to Spanish-speaking participants, and Julie Vance, a sign language expert.
The two-hour program was led by Andy Farmer, AARP Michigan Associate State Director for Health and Supportive Services, at the Patton Community Center in the Southwest sector of the city, which is rich in Hispanic culture.
Carlotta Mitchell, a manager at the Patton Community Center, said she welcomed the opportunity for AARP to talk with seniors about how health care reform affects their lives.
“We love to have people come in to do things for our older adults, to educate them about important issues,” Mitchell said.
Karen Bisdorf, vice president of adult programming at Matrix Human Services in Detroit, which operates the Center, said most of the Spanish-speaking residents are bilingual. But she said Arnaiz was recruited to help those who may gain a deeper understanding if parts of the discussion are interpreted for them.
Detroit was among Farmer’s final few community conversations of 2011. He has traveled 2,500 miles to talk about health care reform in 17 cities to a total audience of about 750 older Michiganders during the year.
The listening tour made its way to Northville, Plymouth and Grand Rapids as well as Detroit in October and November and its final two stops of the year were slated for Flint and Ann Arbor in December.
“All of our listening tour stops are special and enlightening, but the multicultural nature of this one made it extraordinary,” said Farmer, who has been traveling the state holding community conversations for more than two years.
Plans are in the works to have an Arabic interpreter take part in a community conversation in Dearborn in 2012. Dearborn, a southern suburb of Detroit, is the city with the largest Arabic population outside the Middle East.