“Connecting, empowering, supporting the Latino Community”

Hugo Balta

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“AARP has an appreciation for the need to expand our programming to be more relevant to their needs,” said Mike Festa, State Director of AARP Massachusetts, about serving the booming 887,000 population of the state.

Festa emphasized on the Latino News Network (LNN) podcast, “3 Questions With…” “We are intent on connecting, empowering, and supporting the Hispanic-Latino community.”

Last month the U.S. Census began to roll out the population numbers, and it shows that The Bay State is becoming more diverse, with Hispanics-Latinos leading the way from nearly 10% to nearly 13% in ten years.

Massachusetts is also getting older – in fact, it ranks six in the country when it comes to a population over 18-years old.

AARP Massachusetts advocates for its more than 800-thousand members aged 50 and older in the commonwealth.

Identity Theft: Latinos among the most vulnerable

One of the biggest challenges older people have is scam artists who always look to exploit situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of people when they’re most vulnerable.

A study by the Federal Trade Commission shows that Hispanic-Latino communities report less fraud than others. The AARP Fraud Watch Network is a resource to help people spot and avoid identity theft and fraud.

“Many folks just don’t want to admit that they got scammed,” says Festa about the challenges of prosecuting fraud cases. “They’re embarrassed.” Festa, who was a prosecutor in Middlesex County early in his career, said the focus must be on prevention.

Focus on diversity and inclusion

AARP Massachusetts recently announced four Bay State organizations will receive 2021 Community Challenge grants – part of the largest group of grantees to date, with $3.2 million awarded among 244 organizations nationwide.

Grantees will implement quick-action projects to promote livable communities by improving housing, transportation, public spaces, civic engagement, and connection with family, friends, and neighbors, emphasizing the needs of the 50-plus, reported Fifty Plus Advocate.

Many of this year’s awards support revitalizing communities adversely impacted by the pandemic and focus on diversity, inclusion, and disparities.

Festa shared insights about one of the recipients of the award this year – Urban Farming Institute of Boston. “It is a full experience. It is providing food, but it is also a place to connect, to be in the fresh air, to work with others, and to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood,” says Festa.

Festa says part of what AARP Massachusetts does to be helpful is to support projects that are intergenerational, focused on health, and connectivity reducing isolation.

For more information on resources provided by AARP Massachusetts, visit their website: https://states.aarp.org/massachusetts/