Today, Dominican Sister of Hope Linda Delgado, OP, is gathering in Trenton with fellow New Jersey residents to support and show solidarity for the re-signing of the Older Americans Act. She and 10-15 representatives from twenty-one New-Jersey counties will peacefully gather to encourage senators to reaffirm the Older Americans Act, which helps senior citizens with meals, transportation, and various other needs.
“The Older Americans Act provides critical services—such as home-delivered and congregate meals, family caregiver support, in-home assistance, preventive health services, transportation, job training, protection from abuse, and other supportive services—that help about 11 million older adults stay as independent as possible,” AARP.orgreads.
“Funding has been relatively flat over the past decade, failing to keep up with inflation and demand from a rapidly expanding older population.”
As a handicapped person living in New Jersey, Sister Linda has seen the implications of this issue first-hand. When she retired from parish work in 2007, she joined the Essex County Senior Services Advisory Commission in order to help residents of New Jersey access better transportation in their home state. Sister Linda herself has a prosthetic leg, and she wanted to help improve some of the undesirable conditions she had faced. This year, she was asked to become a member of the NJ Citizens Advisory Committee. Sister Linda Delgado
“I thought I could help with reorganizing some of the negative things I had experienced,” she says.
However, her peers soon caught onto her position and began discussing their challenges in greater depth. When people in the building she lived in told her about their struggles with transportation, Sister Linda organized a petition for the group. But she quickly learned that her experience as a woman religious didn’t quite fit the bill for changing legislation.
“When I first went into [advocacy work], it reminded me of taking a course in college: I felt that I had just dropped in and there was so much more to learn,” Sister Linda recalls.
“My language had always been that of religion, but that didn’t work in politics. I had to rethink the way I go about things, and I had to talk to people who have more experience than I do. I said, ‘I have no mortgage, I have no children, I can go up against the freeholders. Tell me what to say, and I’ll say it.’”
Today, Sister Linda is saying it, indeed. She is not protesting against the senators, but she hopes to work peacefully and positively with them in affirming the rights and care of New Jersey’s handicapped population.
“I hope to raise awareness and make a good statement today,” she said. “We are there to support the senators and show solidarity. The time is expiring for them to sign this Act again.”