Alvaro Obregón: Putting Community First

IL Latino News


The number of Hispanic, Latino adults 65+ has grown nearly threefold since 2000, to approximately 5 million in 2020.

For the community, taking care of their elders is often part of the cultural fabric – we take care of our own.

Caregiving is an investment in time and money that can be a strain, especially if you’re juggling taking care of seniors and children – and all the responsibilities that come along with it, including housing, food, and health care.

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. 

Alvaro Obregón, the Associate State Director, Advocacy & Outreach, with AARP Illinois, was a guest on the program “3 Questions With…” hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

“We focus on issues that affect older adults, 50 plus, and their families,” said Obregón about the work that AARP Illinois leads. He said that sometimes the public thinks the organization takes care of “one small segment”, seniors, but AARP “advocates on behalf of whole families.”

Obregón likened internet access to electricity and running water, a basic necessity of modern life. “100 years ago, the people who had running water were “the haves,” he said. “The first people to have electricity were “the haves. When we look at broadband, high-speed internet, it’s somewhat of a similar situation. We have an opportunity to begin to bridge that digital divide.” 

According to a report published by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP’s Aging Connected initiative, more than 21 million people age 65 or older in the U.S. lack broadband access at home. Seniors in rural areas are 1.6 times more likely than others their age to lack such access.

An AARP report found that while caregiving can be financially and emotionally stressful, Latino caregivers often experience higher financial strain. Language is often a barrier for non-English-speaking people accessing resources.

“We brought together community partners,” said Obregón about hosting Caminando Juntos, a free Spanish-language conference “with self-care workshops and panel discussions to help attendees navigate complex family dynamics, healthcare systems, and support services.” The seventh annual conference will take place on October 5.

The Chicago native has lived in the same home in Pilsen since he was a one-year-old. “The furthest I’ve ever moved is from the first floor to the third floor,” Obregón said.

“I see everything that she’s given, for her family, for her brothers and sisters, and for me…I learned everything, to give everything of oneself from my mother.” Obregón credits his 92-year-old mother, who dropped out of school at eight-years-old to help raise her siblings, as the motivation for the work he leads in service to the community.

“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN) and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

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