September 20, 2004
HHS Receives Grant to Assist Elder Refugees
Augusta - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it has been awarded a grant by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to improve services for elder refugees. The grant will expand capacity to serve older refugees and their families and connect the state's refugee programs to the well-developed systems of services to the elderly.
“We want to make sure that our new Mainers are provided the support they need to become contributing members of our community,” said HHS Commissioner John R. Nicholas. “That is especially true of our elder adults, which is why a grant such as this is so important.”
Specifically, HHS will use the grant to develop partnerships among refugee service agencies and agencies that provide services to the elderly and to identify the needs of older refugees. The grant will also fund efforts to design and implement plans for linguistically and culturally sensitive outreach and services to older refugees.
HHS’s Community Services Center administers the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program in Maine and will be overseeing this $65,000 grant. David Stauffer, the Center’s Acting Director, noted that the amount of the award is not nearly as significant as the award itself. “Although the grant is small,” Stauffer acknowledged, “we believe this is an excellent opportunity to improve capacity in Portland and Lewiston to better serve elder refugees and their families.”
One of the reasons given by federal officials in awarding this grant to Maine was the hope that this project could serve as a model for other rural states experiencing a rapid influx of refugees. Like Maine, many of these states are facing the challenge of an aging population and are seeking to bring agencies together to provide appropriate services to meet the needs of their changing elder populations.
HHS will receive assistance in administering this grant from Catholic Charities of Maine, which directs many of the state’s assistance programs for refugees. “This funding will build a bridge between a number of different services for elder refugees,” said Sue Harlor, Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities. “They face significant challenges in adjusting to a new country and culture, so we want to be sure that they use all the tools available to them when beginning their new life here in Maine.”
For more information about the Refugee Resettlement Program, contact (207) 871-7437. For more information about elder services, contact the Area Agencies on Aging, toll free from anywhere in Maine at (877) 353-3771 ((877) ELDERS1).