Spanish Speaking Elderly Council-RAICES
Meeting The Special Needs of Minority and Low Income Older Adults


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460 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Tel.        718-643-0232
Fax.       718-596-6655
Web.     www.Raices.US
Donate  www.Donate.Raices.US


Nancy Talavera, MD

Concha Mendoza, MD, F.A.C.P.
Vice Chairperson

Rose Gaynus
Ramon Raimundi
José Labrador
Edwin Salas




José R. Ortiz Ortiz, LCSW
Executive Director

Yvonne Cotto
Associate Director

Suyapa O. Blanco, MSW
Deputy Director

Lisette Sosa-Dickson, LCSW
Clinical Director




Olga Oukacine
Raíces Astoria Senior Center
Raíces Corona Senior Center

Rosemary L. Bland, MSW
Raíces Times Plaza Senior Center

Alexandra Rodriguez-Canizare
Red Hook Senior Center

Blanca Morocho-Ramirez
Wyckoff Gardens Senior Center



1978 - Founded as the Spanish Speaking Elderly Council of Brooklyn.  Under the leadership of Homero Rosado, served as one of the first and most active organizations advocating on behalf of increased services targeted to meet the needs of Hispanic older adults.  Developed cultural programming and activities such as, “El Festival Hispano de Brooklyn” (the Brooklyn Hispanic Festival) and  “La Celebración de Dia de Reyes,” (annual Three Kings Day celebration).

1985 - Through a grant from the NYC Department for the Aging and funding from the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President developed RAICES, “roots” a model program on how to increase Hispanic utilization of existing services through the pro-active use of cultural competency. Develop the concepts of the “ethnic ramp” and “Culture: a tool not a barrier.” Two outreach modalities which promote the use of culturally specific programming as tools to build minority utilization of senior centers and services.

1989 - Developed the RAICES SSI Outreach Project and an Elder Abuse Prevention program targeting Latino Older adults in Brooklyn and Queens. Funding was made possible through the NYS Office for the Aging.

1991 - Through a competitive RFP process, acquired the Red Hook and Wyckoff Gardens Senior Centers.  Both sites were drastically under-utilized.  They are now exceeding all contractual expectations.  Funding is made possible by the NYC Department for the Aging.

1992 - Developed the RAICES Nutrition Outreach and Education Program.  The mission of the organization was expanded to include work with low income immigrants.  This service is funded through the Nutrition Consortium of NYS.

Homero Rosado passed away.  Josephine Roman was named President and Awilda Rosario was elected as Board Chairperson. 

1993 - Funding was secured form the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, formerly CDA, to establish the Red Hook/Wyckoff Senior Services.  This program allowed for the expansion of casework services in the Red Hook and Wyckoff Gardens Senior Centers. The RAICES English as a Second Language program was developed and implemented as a part of the I.S. 111 Beacon School in  the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.  This program targeted services to meet the need of young immigrant adults.

1994 - Established the Latino Institute for the Elderly (L.I.F.E.).  This was the brain child Homero Rosado, the founder of the organization who passed away in 1992.  Through project L.I.F.E. RAICES returned to its roots and began to provide senior leadership training to help educate older advocates.

1995 - Through a grant from the New York Community Trust RAICES developed Kincare support groups for minority older adults.  The Grandparents who participate in the support groups receive individual assistance with entitlement counseling, participate in support groups and are involved in recreation and socialization activities.

1997 - Through a competitive RFP process RAICES assumed sponsorship for the Corona Program for the Elderly and its Astoria satellite.  These programs were renamed the Raíces Astoria Senior Center and Raíces Corona Senior Center.  Both programs are funded through the NYC Department for the Aging.

1998 - Received conditional approval from the NYS Office of Mental Health to establish the Raíces Geriatric Mental Health Outpatient Clinic.  This was made possible through the support of the Hispanic Federation of NYC with invaluable support and assistance from Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez.  Additional funding for planing was received from the NYC Department of Mental Health.

1999 - As of July 1, 1999, RAICES received final approval and was licensed to open Raíces Casa BienEstar (well being center) located at 10 Hanover Place in downtown Brooklyn.  This clinic targets services to older adults and their families. Raíces Casa BienEstar opens for business.  The first patient is seen during the month of July 1999.  After experiencing a very rocky start and a few years of uncertainty, the clinic has grown both in participants and staff.  The clinic continues to grow and has demonstrated the capacity to become self sufficient in years to come.

2000 - Through a competitive RFP process, RAICES was awarded the contract to run the Raices Times Plaza Senior Center.  This center was woefully underused and the facility needed major renovations.  Since assuming responsibility, the program has met and/or surpassed all contractual responsibilities with the New York City Department for the Aging.

2001 - Edwin Mendez-Santiago is appointed as Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging.  This was a major milestone in the history of the agency.  Having the CEO of the organization chosen to lead the most important public aging agency in the United States, is an acknowledgment of the work and professional capacity of Mr. Mendez-Santiago.

2005 - Mr. Antonio Barrios was hired as the Director of Development.  For many years we had talked about the need to hire an individual whose responsibility was to secure additional funding for the agency for the purpose of strengthening the infrastructure of the organization.  With the hiring of Tony, we are very well on our way to achieve our goals.

Through various grants the organization was able to secure enough computer units and related hardware and software technologies, to assure full computerization of the Organization.

2007 - Raices Casa BienEstar scores FIRST out of 52 other programs in 3 out of four areas and SECOND in the last category in the FY07-Mental Health—MHSIP Adult Consumer Survey conducted by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  The surveys assessed four individual areas, (1) overall satisfaction, (2) access to services, (3) quality/appropriateness of services, and (4) consumer reported outcomes.