Thank you for writing us with your important question.
Here’s a key point to consider: People are more likely to act when they think their action will bring them some benefit. So your job (and many others’ jobs too!) is to provide meaningful benefits for your clientele In your case, what might be the benefits of coming to the senior center? Based on our experience, and perhaps yours as well, those benefits could include opportunities to:
socialize with others, especially those like themselves
learn, through a short course or discussion
acquire new skills, such as in technology or food preparation
get practical information, such as on taxes or available benefits
express oneself, though art or music
exercise, as for example in a dance or yoga class
celebrate together, as on holidays or special occasions.
These are examples, common to many if not most senior groups. There are quite a few of them; chances are you can identify others, as well as some that are particular to local Hispanic culture and your own situation. Not all these activities will appeal to everyone, but all of them will appeal to some subgroup – that’s why most senior or community centers will offer a diversity of programs, with many different activities, so that there’s something for everyone.
If this analysis is true, then to keep your seniors coming to the center your task as a coordinator is to provide these benefits through your own programming. Of course, once you’ve established your program, you want to make sure that it is well-publicized, through the media outlets available to you, be they print or online, and probably both.
But there’s another step you can take to make your work most effective, and that is to make sure your programs are guided by the thinking and feedback from your target audience, namely Hispanic seniors. It should help to get their regular input on your current programs, and their suggestions for how they could be better. To ensure this, you could set up an advisory board (or some similar name) to help you plan programming and carry it out. In doing so, your advisory board members will also be filling a second important role, since they will also be ambassadors to the community in publicizing your programs,
In addition, there are general materials in the Community Tool Box that should be helpful to you and that you might want to consult. See in particular the different sections in Chapter 3, on Assessing Community Needs and Resources, and in Chapter 7, on Encouraging Involvement in Community Work.
But if you can remember and utilize the key principle of providing a variety of benefits that respond to community preference, that should keep you on a successful course. We hope some of these thoughts may be helpful to you. Thanks again for being in touch with us, and all best wishes for success as your important work continues.