by Kara Naber
Earlier this year, Border Partners’ Board asked the Palomas Promotoras (Health Promoters) to propose a project that they felt was needed in their community. The Promotoras decided to provide activities for seniors, since many were living in isolation without caring family members. They submitted a proposal detailing potential activities, transportation, a timeline and budget. The Board and Palomas staff discussed their plan.
During the discussion, board member, Dr. Elizabeth Burr praised Border Partners:
I’ve been involved with several other programs,” she said, “but most come in with their own ideas of what needs to be done. Border Partners is the only one that asks the people what they want.”
After the discussion, the Board unanimously accepted the proposal. Within a few months, the program was up and running.
Twice a month, 20 to 30 seniors come together at the Palomas Community Center to socialize and have a hot meal. According to Juana Flores,
All (seniors) are welcome, and everyone is treated equally.”
She said that the activities for each session vary and include games, exercise, music and dancing as well as lessons on health and nutrition. The Promotoras provide haircuts to those who want them and provide transportation to and from the Center for those who need it.
A hot lunch is provided at every session. The meal is prepared by the Promotoras with help from local volunteers. Juana said,
We divide the work. Everyone helps.”
While we spoke, one of the volunteers made fresh tortillas, patting them between her hands and then handing them off to another lady who slapped them on a griddle.
During my visit, the importance of the Palomas senior lunch program became clear. According to Juan Rascon, the Border Partners’ senior program is the only one in town. “Nobody else is doing anything with the seniors here,” he said. One of the participants, a spry man who introduced himself as Pedro, lives alone. He lost part of a leg to diabetes and has no family members in town to care for him. “This is important because before, I couldn’t leave the house. Now I can come here and visit friends and have fun.”
As I was leaving, the Promotoras were preparing for the day’s activity, a game of Lotería, which is equivalent to Bingo. While the participants waited for the game to begin, the promotoras laid out the prizes, a man strummed a guitar and sang, people chatted, laughed and applauded.