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Keeping seniors secure

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The need has never been greater for low-income senior citizens in central New Mexico. Rising food costs, lost wages and more households led by seniors have all contributed to more seniors seeking assistance from the nonprofit Silver Horizons, according to executive director Ron Hidalgo – and that was before the pandemic.

“We continue to see more and more seniors seeking assistance,” he said.

While the nonprofit is continuing its normal assistance programs, for the remainder of June, it also will host weekly senior food markets at community centers around the county.

These weekly events will offer free groceries available for pick-up by seniors 60 and older. All pick-ups are completely contactless and seniors can stay in their cars.

For the past 40 years, Silver Horizons has provided groceries, household repairs and utility assistance to senior citizens at or below the federal poverty level in central New Mexico. In the past six months, the nonprofit has seen its call volume double.

Hidalgo said that, prior to 2020, seniors reaching out to the Silver Horizons were usually only looking for help with a single bill or a few household repairs. But now seniors are asking for help with multiple bills and multiple repairs.

Although Silver Horizons has expanded its efforts, it has been hard to keep up with all the requests while also working with less donor support and fewer volunteers, Hidalgo said.

“It’s been difficult because most of what we do is done by volunteers, so we’re always needing more volunteers and more donor support,” he said.

Hidalgo said that, overall, there has been less food available from other food banks, while empty grocery store shelves have made it difficult for donors to pick up grocery store items.

Silver Horizons is now purchasing 60-80% of the food it donates and rising food costs mean that money doesn’t go as far as it once did.

“During the present pandemic and stay-at-home orders for high-risk groups, our efforts are even more vital as seniors already struggling to make ends meet now find themselves further isolated and alone,” Hidalgo said.

He said the organization is always in need of volunteers, but cash donations go the farthest and can be used to buy the food in bulk.

Purchases made at the Silver Horizons Thrift Smart thrift store at 3100 San Mateo NE also support the organization.

Hidalgo said the group depends on individual donations. Without those, he said, “we wouldn’t survive, we wouldn’t exist.”

To donate or learn more, visit www.silverhelpingseniors.org or call 505-800-1400.

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