Dear Friends and Partners,
Fulfilling NAPCA’s mission as President & CEO during the past three years against the backdrop of the longest government shutdown in American history, and a global pandemic, has taught me so much about what it means to be in service to our nation’s diverse and growing older population. What began as curiosity six years ago after seeing low-income elders from an ethnic enclave ushered in an unmarked charter bus to a casino (a hidden industry targeting the vulnerable) has since ignited my purpose to be an advocate for voiceless older adults. It was a listening session with our elders that sparked our 40 for 40 campaign to share their remarkable stories and served as the provenance of our job-pipeline initiative for older adults to address the ageism and cultural barriers that often exist for diverse mature workers.
I am extremely thankful for the committed and hardworking NAPCA team. Our staff and board of directors live the mantra, “our program participants first.” This team effort allowed us to resolve program and fiscal challenges that have followed NAPCA for many years. As a team, we’ve secured over $80 million of resources to serve our elders for the years to come, and in partnership with the University of California San Francisco, we’ve developed the first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) research registry paving the way for the meaningful inclusion of AAPI in clinical and caregiving research. Our work was made possible by the solidarity and support we received from our community, philanthropic, government, corporate, and coalition partners.
We’ve also worked to ensure the nation’s limited English proficient and homebound AAPI older adults were cared for with free deliveries and transportation from Lyft, through the launch of our national multilingual helpline and online resources at the start of the pandemic. We expanded our multilingual Helpline to provide vaccine access nationwide and most recently partnered with LA County to help with mobile vaccinations. We also fought against damaging policies like the Public Charge Rule and repeal of language provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Rooted in our work during the past three years is the firm belief that language is the embodiment of history and culture, and that ultimately, language is power. That’s why we’ve worked to create equity in access to important resources for our elders with language barriers.
For many of us at NAPCA, we continue to reflect on the Atlanta shooting. Most of the victims were women of Asian heritage, mothers, and older adults. This tragedy felt close to home for me. After seeing a family photo of one of the victims and her two young sons, I was reminded of when my family – my mother, brother, and myself – first arrived in the US in the 1980s. Looking back, I remembered that we never talked about the racism and discrimination our family experienced growing up because we believed it was what we needed to endure to survive in America. Through the grief of the tragedy, I had the opportunity to examine myself as an advocate of older adults, but also find the courage to begin conversations with my mother about our own immigration experience. I imagine similar conversations were happening throughout the country (learn about the AAPI older adult population through this webinar conducted by NAPCA, Justice in Aging, and the National Center on Elder Abuse).
While making the decision to leave NAPCA was not easy, my next chapter will allow me to return to the part of the country where our family’s immigrant story began, a region where my mother still resides, and be a part of the work to advocate for the needs of diverse older adults in Washington, DC. Over the past month, I have been working with our board of directors to identify my successor and will continue to do so during my final month with the organization in September. I know that I will be leaving NAPCA in safe hands.
I’d like to end this letter with a request. Over the course of the next ten years, poverty impacting older adults will skyrocket tenfold. This means that time is not on our side and will require all of us to be part of solutions. Please get involved with NAPCA or reach out to a local organization working to uphold the dignity of older adults in your community. They need you and your support.