In a move to reach out to Hispanic elderly folks, Pct. 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton’s office is expanding its free RUOK program to help Spanish-speaking or bilingual seniors.
The Hispanic-version of the program is called CASA. It stands for “Cuidando Ancianos con Seguridad y Asistencia.”
“That means ‘taking care of the seniors in need,’” Rebecca Gonzales, CASA coordinator. “This is a senior program.”
Gonzales explained how Eagleton came up with the idea to implement a Hispanic-version of the RUOK program.
“Constable Eagleton has a heart for the community,” Gonzales said. “He had started the RUOK Programs, and then he thought about the Hispanic community. So, he wanted to expand this to them.”
Gonzales said the program had previously only been available in English, but now the constable’s office wants to extend it to Hispanic or bilingual-speaking people.
“It is the same service, just in Spanish,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said the CASA program works just like the RUOK program. Seniors need to register for the program first.
“I’ll get the application out, and we can do it over the phone,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said either the senior themselves could call or have a family member contact her. In addition, Gonzales said she will need the contact information of another family member as well. Then, Gonzales will call seniors registered for the program once a week to check in and see how they are doing.
“If they do not respond on my first call, I’ll call again,” Gonzales said. “Then, I give it another hour or so. If I do not get a response by that time, I’ll call our Pct. 3 dispatch and they will conduct a welfare check on them. Sometimes, they have fallen or cannot talk. You would be surprised about how some of their grandchildren and family members are mistreating them.”
Gonzales recounted a story of how she helped one Hispanic senior whose family members were abusing her.
“I had one lady that was being held hostage until she got ahold of a phone and called,” Gonzales said. “So, we sent a deputy out there for a welfare check to see about her status. They were able to help her.”
Gonzales added the program is good for when bad storms or hurricanes strike the area.
“Some of these people are home alone and do not know what to do,” she said. “We’ll put them in a shelter or to a family member to make sure they are safe.”
The program’s launch is being coordinated with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
“It is a good program for people,” Gonzales said. “Eagleton is a good person, and he cares about his staff, his people, his precinct. I am grateful to God that he thought about me to help him with this program.”
Gonzales added no one should fear being asked uncomfortable questions about their personal life.
“A phone call will not hurt,” she said. “I do not ask if they are legal or not, or about personal information.”
Gonzales encouraged people to sign up their loved ones for the CASA program.
“If you have been calling mom or dad all day and they don’t answer, and if they are on the program, I can send a deputy over there to check on them to make sure they are doing good,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said she works from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., weekly at 420 S. Main St. in Highlands. To sign up, call Gonzales at 713-247-9732.
Charlotte Jackson is the RUOK coordinator, the English version of the program. She can be reached at 713-274-2513.