The general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Aging visited the Korea Town Senior and Community Center to learn about the needs of Korean American seniors and discuss support services. This visit marked the first time the head of LA’s aging department had visited the senior center since its opening in 2013.
On August 2, General Manager Jaime Pacheco-Orozco and Deputy Director Daniel Kim of the Los Angeles Department of Aging paid a visit to the Korea Town Senior and Community Center with the primary aim of understanding the needs of Korean American seniors and discussing various support services.
During the visit, the officials took the opportunity to promote and inform seniors about the free COVID-19 testing and vaccination services, which will now be available on the first floor of the senior center, starting this week.
The officials conducted a comprehensive tour of both the first and second floors of the senior center to assess its current condition. Following the tour, they engaged in a meeting with Yong Sin Shin, the incumbent chairwoman of the senior center, and Young Song Lee, a director of the senior center, to discuss the challenges they face and the availability of funding.
One of the issues brought up during the meeting was the need for funding to enable the second-floor kitchen, which is presently non-operational due to insufficient financial resources, to provide free meals to the seniors.
To address this, Pacheco-Orozco suggested the possibility of designating the senior center as one of the City of Los Angeles’ “meal sites.” If designated, the center would receive free meals delivered to its location. Currently, there are over 80 free meal sites operating within the city.
Regarding the funding for the kitchen, Pacheco-Orozco clarified that certain criteria must be met, and there may be available funding through the nutrition program, which would need an evaluation of the kitchen’s requirements.
The discussion also encompassed ways to assist seniors with Medi-Cal and Medicaid enrollment, as well as exploring free means of transportation for them.
“The top three senior issues we focus on are food insecurity, social isolation, and homelessness,” Pacheco-Orozco told the Korea Daily, emphasizing that these issues existed before the COVID-19 pandemic and were only accentuated by it.
He further stated, “What we want to do is to ensure that Korean seniors can take full advantage of the free services available to them. There is a misconception that senior immigrants should feel ashamed to avail of public benefits for free, and we want to emphasize that this is not the case.”
Additionally, Pacheco-Orozco highlighted that Korean and other Asian American seniors are often underrepresented, and their voices need to be heard more assertively. He urged seniors to be vocal in demanding services from the government, as he, being employed by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles, stands as their representative.
“When you go to the City Council, you see many seniors demanding services, and it’s essential for the city to recognize these concerns. I work for the mayor, and I am your voice, but it’s up to you to speak up,” he emphasized.
BY SUAH JANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]