WHAT WE DO:
As an answer to community need, the YWCA GLA offers a variety of senior programs at two different program locations: the Union Pacific Empowerment Center and the Supervisor Gloria Molina Community Empowerment Center. Hundreds of seniors from these communities join in the activities that focus on three main areas: Social, Education, and Health/Fitness. With the second largest elderly population in the country, the need for strong senior programs in Los Angeles is apparent.
“For years, we have been offering vital senior programming focused on eliminating isolation, improving quality of life and education,” explains Sharon Shelton, VP of Empowerment Services. “There is a definite need for programs focused on this specific population as they are often forgotten.”
Activities include computer lab, field trips, health education, exercise classes, ESL classes, various activities and clubs as well as crafts and hobbies. An affordable, healthy lunch is offered at each location daily. Senior participants also focus on giving back to the community by creating hand-made blankets for hospitals and advocating for their communities.
“It has been rewarding to see the group of seniors at Union Pacific become much more aware of local policy,” comments Norma Gonzalez, Director of Child Development/ Center Director of Union Pacific Empowerment Center. “Their involvement in the computer class is not only keeping them socially and mentally engaged but they are becoming actively involved in community concerns.”
The health of these senior participants is directly related to their involvement in programs. Recent studies have shown that the most socially connected older adults are three times more likely to report very good or excellent health. Improved health and quality of life is of significant concern at Union Pacific in East Los Angles as the Latino elderly population in Los Angeles experiences highest rates of diabetes and obesity.
“As we boldly continue to grow our senior programs to address an eminent need in the community, I love to share this story of a senior woman who attends our programs,” shares Faye Washington, YWCA CEO. “She was lonely, uninterested in life and isolated. Then, she came to the YW senior program. She began to live again… she began to flourish! She even started dating. There was nothing quite as special as the smile on her face as she told me her story. The statistics and specialists prove there is even greater need now more than ever for senior programs. But for me, I love to hear the personal stories of joy, growth, and people who stopped believing the lie that they didn’t matter to society anymore because of their involvement in YWCA programs… and now they are fighting for safer streets and working with the youth in their community.”
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT/FINANCIAL LITERACY:
Women of all ages (young girls to seniors) in the Los Angeles area need education and training in economic self-sufficiency and financial literacy. This is especially true for those who are low-income and/or of color. Many of their mothers, grandmothers or guardians were never instructed in the principles of basic economic literacy either, passing their attitudes and beliefs about money on to their daughters and granddaughters, all but ensuring that the cycle of fiscal ignorance would be continued through the next generation.
The YWCA/GLA offers programming designed to break this cycle and acquire the knowledge and skills they need to change their financial situations. Women, Girls, $, & Power teaches girls and young women (ages 9 to 18) their mothers, grandmothers and/or guardians the value of economic literacy in their own lives through the study of societal economics, personal economics, basic business concepts and operations, resiliency, and career options. Participants attend four intensive, day-long workshops and a culminating retreat, concentrating on topics chosen by the girls and women themselves.
|I have a great desire to grow, study and I believe that the YWCA has helped me reach that dream. I have learned computer basics and now I can communicate with my family through email. As a senior citizen, the center has helped me improve my social life. Now I have many friends, who I met through the services that the YWCA offers.
– Celia Juarez
|I attend computer classes at the YWCA and they give us strength and power to be up-to-date with technology. As a senior citizen, I am grateful for this opportunity to learn without discrimination.
– Lilia Servin
|I am glad that I found YWCA Union Pacific because it is giving me the opportunity to extend my knowledge in education and obtain a better living for my family and myself.
– Jesse Gonzalez
|YWCA Union Pacific Empowerment Center is helping to eliminate racism because they are teaching activities to the entire community, including senior citizens. They teach us English and computer skills, and they are succeeding. Before these classes, I did not know how to turn on a computer and now in the short time I’ve been attending I have improved my skills, am more educated and have a desire to lean more.
– Alicia Cruz