NAMPA, Idaho — Senior citizens were among the very first Idahoans to be eligible for vaccination. Now, after getting their shots, many are reconnecting with loved ones and friends.
After more than a year apart, members of the Hispanic Seniors of Idaho had a reunion on Wednesday.
Judy Otero, a board member of the group said the last time the group met was January of last year when the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the U.S.
“We thought it was best not to meet anymore. We just didn't know the complications of it or ramifications of it,” she said.
Now with vaccinations picking up and 63 percent of the senior population vaccinated in the state the group decided to reunite at the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho in Nampa. It was a bittersweet moment because the virus had taken the lives of some of their dear friends. Otero's sister Sally Ruiz was among them.
“She was the president of the group for several years. She got sick in late November and on December 8 two days after her birthday she passed away. It's really hard, I love my sister and we had to say goodbye through the window.” Otero said.
The group also paid respect to Jesse Berain and his wife Maria Andrea. Berain died two weeks after the loss of his wife. Both played a role in establishing the nonprofit group.
“They ran it for a while as long as their health was good. They ran it as much as they could, and other people took over. But all of the people that have been after them have learned from them. We’re going to miss them,” Otero said.
For some of the senior citizens, this group is like a second family.
“We talk about what we're doing. We count on each other for support and for the community you know just to get together as a person as people. There are so many things that we want to do that we can’t do or haven’t been able to do because of the restrictions that have been placed on us,” Otero said.
To learn more about the group and get in contact with a board member, call the Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho at (208) 442-0823.