The Omaha Senior Citizens’ Cultural Center receives national recognition
Omaha’s Intercultural Senior Center (ISC) has achieved national accreditation for its work with a diverse senior community.
It received accreditation from the National Council on Aging’s National Institute on Senior Centers, making it the first Nebraska center to receive national recognition and one of over 200 accredited senior centers in the United States, according to the ISC.
The center was founded in 2009 by the managing director Carolina Padilla. She worked at another non-profit organization where she ran a pilot program for grandmothers. For Padilla, the program ultimately highlighted the need for more services for seniors, especially those from the Latino community.
The program was initially primarily aimed at Latinos, but over time their resources expanded and began to accept immigrants and refugees from Sudan, Nepal, Somalia and other areas.
“It all started with a crazy idea of mine and I was hoping that one day we could grow and cater to more cultures and we do,” Padilla told 3 News Now.
ISC offers courses and programs designed to improve the lives of seniors aged 50 and over.
“We make sure that if you come up with something, be it your case, your concern, your concern – it will be taken care of. This is how we take care of our seniors, ”said Padilla.
The center looks after 1,500 people every month. The services are offered in seven different languages as they help people from over 20 countries.
The offer includes art and culture, health and wellness, community excursions, fitness courses, language courses, case management, social work and help with everyday activities such as visits to the doctor.
“English as a second language is a very important class in our program, as is citizenship. Many seniors have been here for many, many years and never had the opportunity to become citizens and we are running a program to support that and make that dream come true, ”says Padilla.
ISC also offers door-to-door transportation by vans to make it accessible to all visitors regardless of ability, income or physical mobility. 95 percent of them use this service, which is why Padilla is happy with their newest address, as it is centrally located for all groups.
She adds, “We have five different vehicles that drive out every morning and often bring seniors. You go on two trips – one in the morning and two in the afternoon. We see over 100 seniors at the ISC every day. “
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, ISC had to turn around to protect its most vulnerable. It closed its doors but kept its services and even added a pantry.
During the pandemic, the center had over 2,000 customers receiving pantries, ready meals, and toiletries. Most of it was delivered to retirement homes to avoid direct contact.
On May 1st, the center reopened and became a vaccination center. Padilla says that nearly 98% of seniors who regularly attend ISC received their vaccine there.
“They were dying to go back to the ISC,” said Padilla. “We really noticed a lot of the isolation because they couldn’t come anymore and for many of them this is their home. They call ISC my home, my second home. “
The non-profit organization is growing and is currently hiring a few positions. You can find it here.
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