Every Friday, at 10 in the morning, a group of senior Hispanics comes together to pass the time and chat, to forget about the past and focus on the present.
The ‘Club de la Tercera Edad’ (Senior Club) is an initiative offered through the Latin American Association and is designed to help bring seniors together for recreation, socialization, crafts, exercise and other health-conscious activities.
According to program regular Gloria Patiño, attendees have a great time at the group. A native of Ecuador, Patiño has lived in the United States since 1962. She says the club is a place where she can spend quality time with fellow Spanish-speaking residents.
Patiño’s road to achieving the ‘American dream’ has been admittedly difficult, but she feels that “time erases old emotions.”
“I’ve always felt at home in the United States,” she said. “I wouldn’t care if I had to go back and relive those experiences. Each one of them is a lesson.”
While spending time filling out an adult coloring book, Juana Viera echoed the same sentiment. She told MundoHispánico that she never misses a Friday at the club. “I have friends here, and we have a lot of fun.”
For retired doctor Alvin Graham, however, the experience is slightly different. The Maryland native has been attending the program for the last month, in order to learn Spanish.
“I love this opportunity to be able to speak with other Hispanics. I would love to travel to Costa Rica, for example, and talk to people there. I also want to visit other Spanish-speaking countries,” explained Graham.
And although Graham is a new member, the program has actually been in existence in the community for several decades.
“This group is one of the oldest programs that we have at the Association. It has been offered to the community for 30 years,” explained Cynthia Román, managing director of Family Services for LAA. “We want to keep it going, because it’s a place where our seniors can feel supported. We have seen it grow, as there is a large demand in the senior Hispanic community.”
Between 2000 and 2015, the senior population grew dramatically in Atlanta – doubling in size, in fact – according to a study by the Atlanta Regional Commission .
It is estimated that by 2030, one in five residents will be at least 60 years old.
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