HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF NIAASC:
The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) initiated through the efforts of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin in 1998 and incorporated in early 1999, is a nonprofit 501C3 organization. Its mission is to serve seniors through information, referral and advocacy services. NIAASC has organized seven conferences and workshops The date and subject of each conference/workshop appears at the end of this newsletter. (Proceedings of almost all conferences appear on the NIAASC web site). NIAASC through formal surveys, informal discussions and observations, has identified problems faced by Indian seniors in USA, their needs and aspirations. It has periodically published its newsletter and/or progress reports. Its representatives have appeared on Live and Call-in Television Program (ITV), written articles of interest to seniors and their families. Its pamphlet 'How to Set Up Senior Citizen Program' is available on request. Its collaborative efforts with a number of entities have provided NIAASC with rich and valuable feedback on issues of seniors of Indian origin. Its Board of Directors, composed of individuals with dedication and professionalism in different fields, provides a continuity of efforts by virtue of the fact that only one-third of its members retire every year, though eligible to be reelected. Its membership is open to all but decision-making rests with members 50 years of age and over. NIAASC remains an information, referral and advocacy entity and it brings to the attention of seniors and their families services available in their local communities and encouraging them to utilize the same. The primary focus of NIAASC has always been and remains to be not to reinvent wheels, but to forge collaborative affiliations with other groups and organizations, and focus on a broad-based strategy for the benefit of seniors and their families.
THE YEAR 2003:
Management & Administration:
Since our last General Body meeting on 11/02/2002, the NIAASC has progressed steadily. On a sad note it lost its energetic and dedicated secretary, Mathew Koshi, due to a massive heart attack on February 10, 2003. The Board of Directors added three new Board members: Satya Malhotra, who has worked in the nursing field, Tara Kotecha, who is in spirituality and music and Chandubhai Patel actively involved with a senior program conducted at the Vaishnav Temple. Ms. Kotecha took over as secretary of the association in middle of 2003. NIAASC made some inroads, though slow, in enrolling new members. Related to membership it also passed a resolution which will be added as an amendment to the Constitution: "All the current paid members can convert their membership to life membership by paying the balance between life membership dues and unused portion of the current membership." The resolution was approved by the General Body on November 1, 2003.
NIAASC at an orientation for its Board members discussed detailed responsibilities of each officer and focused more on partnership and sharing of responsibilities. Its annual financial statement (April, 2002-March 31, 2003), had been mailed to NIAASC members in June/July 2003.
Information & Referral:
NIAASC continued its activities in this area at a steady pace. Besides the Live & Call-in program on ITV in which representatives of the Hindu Temple Society participated along with NIAASC representatives, NIAASC sent its news bulletin from time to time to Indian weekly newspapers and radio station. During this period it also produced two newsletters/progress reports mailed to almost 400 people on its mailing list. They were also sent by E-mail to about four dozen individuals and organizations with a request to forward the same to others on their E-mail. Its toll free telephone number invites averaging four calls a month from different parts of the country. NIAASC representatives research specific problems of callers and refer them to appropriate agencies for addressing their problems. Its web site has been modified for simplicity and better understanding.
Advocacy and Elder Law Conference/Workshop:
Recognizing that NIAASC had not addressed the advocacy objective, it arranged a workshop in April 2003 to understand the process of advocacy. The speaker, Bobbie Sackman, an energetic advocate for seniors with the Council of Senior Centers and Services, outlined the process based on her practical experience. The advocacy workshop was attended by 18 representatives from 8 different organizations. The November 02, 2002, conference on Elder Law was viewed by participants as an essential tool for benefit of seniors and their families. This full-day conference enumerated different components of Elder Law such as Living Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Proxy. The Tuoro Law School in Long Island was the leading institution for this conference.
To fulfill one of its objectives NIAASC has always believed in collaborating with existing groups and agencies thereby avoiding reinventing wheels. During this period NIAASC has continued its collaborative arrangements with a number of organizations -governmental and non-governmental- with fruitful and productive results. In addition, NIAASC has joined with a number of organizations in celebrating Indian Festivals and National Days such as India's Independence. India Association of Long Island (IALI): Since 2000, NIAASC has collaborated with the India Association of Long Island in its Luncheon Programs for Seniors. Recently held luncheon on April 27, 2003, focused on Nutrition: Ayurvedic Perspective and was attended by over 80 persons. Long Island Gujarati Cultural Society: On April 13, 2003, Dr. Pandya and Mr. Prasad were invited to speak at a meeting of Long Island Gujarati Cultural Society in Blue Point, Long Island. The meeting was attended by over 200 people. The LIGCS initiated their senior citizens program by forming an adhoc committee with Prafull Shah as its coordinator. Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA): NIAASC president was invited to speak on the issues and aspirations of seniors at a convention by RANA on July 4, 2003. Though not many people participated in the talk, RANA expressed its commitment to the cause of seniors and its willingness to work with NIAASC. NIAASC, through its new Board member, Satya Malhotra, is exploring the feasibility of working with a senior group at the Plainview Gurudwara. NIAASC representative(s) spoke to the group on November 16, 2003, and assured some 20 participants that NIAASC would provide any technical and logistic support the group may need. Formed just about two months back, the group meets one day a week on Thursdays in Plainview, in a house next to Gurudwara.
NIAASC is pleased to inform that the Hindu Temple Society of North America on Bowne Street in Flushing, New York conducts once a week on Wednesdays its senior citizens program from 10:00 to 3:00 in the afternoon. Mrs. Nirmala Ramasubramanian, chairperson of the Senior Citizens Committee of the Temple and Dr. Uma Mysorekar, the Temple President, are very enthusiastic for the program and intend to carry it out on a daily basis once the building under construction is completed in the Fall/Winter 2003. The senior program at the temple is open to all. NIAASC also serves on the Temple's Senior Citizens Committee and as and when required provides technical and logistic support. We may also recognize that the Senior Citizens Group of New York which meets twice a month at the Vaishnav Temple in Holliswood is growing by leaps and bounds. Dr. Ashwin Pandya, NIAASC VP and Chandubhai Patel, NIAASC Board member, have been involved with this program since its inception. NIAASC continues to work with the Indian American Kerala Center in Elmont & United Hindu Cultural Council Senior Center in South Ozone Park, Queens. NIAASC has also established new alliance with the senior Citizens Program in the Town of Brookhaven. In a recent meeting with the Director of the Program, Donna Bonacci, the NIAASC president and Vice president welcomed the Town as NIAASC member. There was serious interaction and enthusiasm during the 2-hour meeting in Medford and the director offered all possible assistance to NIAASC and its sister agencies.
Research & Studies:
There are numerous ongoing research studies in USA on the subject of aging and related issues. In New York City, the Asian American Federation of New York just completed a comprehensive study on various issues affecting seniors. NIAASC summarized the study for the benefit of its members and others and developed a comparative analysis of Indian seniors with other Asian groups in the study i.e. Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese. Another study undertaken by Dr. Jyotsna Kalavar, professor at the Penn State University who is also a NIAASC life member, was just completed. NIAASC collaborated in different phases of the study. The South Asian Public Health Association just released its brown paper publication and included a chapter on Indian elders. NIAASC and other organizations such as UHCCSC were recognized in the publication.
CONFERENCES AND WORKSHOPS
Date Subject (s) Covered
11/01/03 Housing Opportunities for Seniors
09/26/98 Overview of Seniors' Problems; Services for Seniors through Private and Public Sectors; Issues related to Social Security.
04/29/00 Medicare and Medicaid Basics, Social Security, Process of Developing Senior Citizen Programs, and Senior Citizens Services and Employment Programs.
11/18/00 In-Family Conflicts and Compromises Faced by Immigrant Seniors, Overview of Senior Programs in the New York Metro region.
11/10/01 Assisted Living & Housing, Respite Care, Transportation and Medicaid 11/02/02 Elder Law and Its Implications to Seniors
04/26/03 Process of Advocacy