County Extends Avenidas Rainbow Collective Support
North County’s LGBTQ+ older adults’ program receives funding through June 2022
SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend funding through June 2022 for Avenidas Rainbow Collective, which provides services supporting the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ older adults.
The Rainbow Collective started in early 2020 as a pilot program to provide socialization, education, case management, and LGBTQ+ cultural competency within the aging services field. County Supervisor Joe Simitian proposed the County’s partnership with Avenidas in 2019 to bring LGBTQ+ older adult services to North County, an area where services were lacking.
“Two years in and the program is thriving,” said Simitian. “The Rainbow Collective has become a trusted community resource helping LGBTQ+ older adults build connections and access services in their local community.”
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the region’s older adult population (50 years old and up) will continue to increase. Currently, there are an estimated three million LGBTQ+ older adults across the U.S. and that number is expected to grow to roughly seven million by 2030. The lack of specialized services throughout the County for LGBTQ+ older adults, coupled with hardship in finding reliable transportation, means the aging LGBTQ+ population faces significant challenges in accessing LGBTQ-competent, quality services.
A 2021 County survey found that while LGBTQ+ older adults in Santa Clara County displayed resilience and many strengths, they are an at risk and underserved community. The top five potential activities, programs, and services of most interest to LGBTQ+ older adults are: access to free movies or other entertainment; safe walking spaces; social and group activities; LGBTQ+ specific activities, services, and programs; and support with technology.
“Avenidas specializes in connecting with and caring for older adults in North County,” said Simitian. “The pilot offered an opportunity to see if a LGBTQ+ older adults’ program would be helpful to the community, and it’s clear to see that it is.”
Survey responses from program participants indicate that the Rainbow Collective has demonstrated that their services are much needed and align with the services of most interest for LGBTQ+ older adults living in Santa Clara County. Survey results also indicate that program participants feel less isolated and more engaged with the community, that new friendships have been created through the activities, and they feel safe, supported, and included in the group.
“On behalf of Avenidas Rainbow Collective members, we thank you for the continued funding and support of our community,” said Thomas Kingery, Avenidas Rainbow Collective Program Coordinator. “Avenidas Rainbow Collective is grateful to Santa Clara County and Supervisor Simitian for recognizing the needs that exist for the LGBTQ older adult community and for continuing to support Avenidas Rainbow Collective’s mission to provide services, social engagement, and advocacy for LGBTQ older adults in our community. We look forward to continuing and expanding our services in 2022.”
Simitian said the partnership with Avenidas is, “part of a continuing effort to get County-supported medical services, aging services and other social services to the folks who need them in locations that are readily accessible. We can do so much more,” he said, “when we partner with trusted non-profits who are already doing good work in the community.”
Avenidas seeks to create a community that supports and celebrates older adults by providing a wide range of programs, information and services that enable people to stay active, maintain their independence, help their aging parents, or care for a spouse.
The community-based nonprofit organization serves the San Francisco Bay Area mid-Peninsula communities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, and Mountain View. Learn more about how Avenidas is re-inventing aging at avenidas.org.