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AARP CT Grants Support Enhancing Outdoor Rec, Community Spaces

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Tuesday, November 9, 2021   

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The latest round of an AARP Connecticut program will provide grants of up to $5,000 to organizations and municipalities improving community spaces for people of all ages in the state.

In its fourth year, the Livable Communities Grant Program awarded funds to six organizations or state entities, including the San Juan Center, one of the oldest Latino nonprofit in Connecticut.

It is also the only Latino nonprofit in Hartford providing housing services to older adults.

Fernando Betancourt, executive director of the Center, said the grant will help transform the outdoor courtyard of its 36-unit independent living facility, Casa Edad de Oro.

"What we're going to do with this funding is install and buy some benches and structures where they can play dominoes outside," Betancourt explained. "They can just sit down to have a chat outside, and the whole idea is to create, like, a little mini-park."

The Livable Communities grant is an expansion of the national AARP Community Challenge Grant, which provides funding for projects that enhance community space in neighborhoods, towns, and cities. AARP Connecticut has funded 22 projects since the Livable Communities program started in 2018.

Betancourt pointed out one of the main goals of sprucing up the outdoor courtyard is to create more welcoming and comfortable outdoor seating where residents of Casa Edad de Oro can connect. He added because of the pandemic, feelings of isolation have become more common for older adults in the building.

"Not only because the number of individuals who died were of the older age, but also because it forced them to stay strictly inside," Betancourt noted. "So we believe that having this park, passive recreation will help them a great deal."

Other grantees include Rocky Hill Housing Authority, Goodwin University, the Town of Glastonbury, the Garden Club of Windham, and Fairgate Farm. The projects must be completed within 12 months.


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