Catholic Charities of Tennessee's Refugee Elders program has been awarded a $40,000 grant from The Healing Trust, which awarded funds totaling over $700,000 in its most recent grant cycle. The one-year grant will be used for direct services to support the health and well-being of refugee elders through group programming and case management.
"Refugee elders account for roughly 15% of our refugee clients," explained Jennifer Escue, Youth and Elders Services supervisor for Catholic Charities Refugee Services department. "They come from 12 different countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean and speak more than 17 different languages."
"Half of our clients are pre-literate, even in their native languages. They range from 55 to 84 years old, with an average age of 67. They are 48% male and 52% female. The majority are here without family and live alone. Over 60% of group members currently suffer from PTSD, depression, or dementia."
"Clearly, this is a population in need of assistance," added Pamela Russo, Catholic Charities executive director. "As a result of this funding, for which we are truly grateful, we will be able to increase or maintain the current quality of life as elders age by providing case management and weekly activities to assist in healing mental, physical, and emotional trauma they have experienced."
Additionally, she continued, "we will work to increase opportunities for healthy aging by giving our clients the skills and education necessary to overcome barriers caused by social isolation, lack of cultural understanding, and limited English language skills."
"We are deeply grateful for the life changing work done by the Refugee Elders team at Catholic Charities of Tennessee and the other 13 grantee partners," said Kristen Keely-Dinger, The Healing Trust president & CEO. "Their commitment to improving the health of the most vulnerable members of our community is inspiring." This year's grants bring the collective grant making of The Healing Trust to over $79 million since 2002.