POSSO delivers meals to seniors confined to their homes
Over the past two decades, Connie Nunes-Faria has battled cancer on and off, forcing her to undergo intense treatments that leave her hands so swollen with fluid that it is often difficult to cook for herself and her elderly mother.
So she is even more grateful for the five days a week that a driver from the Portuguese Organization for Social Services and Opportunities drops off a hot meal for Nunes-Faria, 59, and her 86-year-old mother, Ilda Nunes, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
âFood is a blessing because it’s a meal I don’t have to worry about,â said Nunes-Faria, who has lymphedema that causes lymph fluid to build up in her hands. âIt helps my mom to have cultural food and as I am it’s very difficult for me to cook. I break a lot of dishes or glassware and sometimes I accidentally break an egg yolk.
Her mother started attending the center over twenty years ago.
“It’s very important because my mother really loves Portuguese food and doesn’t care,” she said. “They’re making a cod with chickpeas that my mom loves and that’s something I couldn’t do.”
Located in the Little Portugal neighborhood of San JosÃ©, the centre’s Elderly Nutrition and Human Meals Program provides 130-140 meals per day for elderly people who are unable to leave their homes due to illness or to physically travel to the center. , according to executive director Bela Ferreira. association, also known as POSSO.
The group also serves around 50 to 70 meals on site each day and around 50 people come to collect their food daily.
With each meal costing $ 16, the center is soliciting $ 24,000 in gift book donations to provide 30 seniors with five hot meals a week for 10 weeks.
In addition to meals, the organization helps its seniors to have access to COVID-19 vaccines and tests, transportation to doctor visits, translation services, and assistance with social security, disability and Unemployed. While POSSO assists around 5,000 people a year of all nationalities, 80% of whom are Portuguese.
âLow-income Portuguese, Vietnamese and Spanish immigrants have stayed in this region because housing is cheaper and they work in manual jobs, so their social security is extremely low,â Ferreira said. âSome of them earn between $ 700 and $ 900 a month and being able to live in this area is quite difficult and it is extremely essential that we provide them with these meals. “
POSSO was founded in 1974 after Joe Machado, 74, a former Santa Clara County social worker, received 15-20 calls a day from Portuguese immigrants on how to complete various forms and interact with public agencies . Machado looked around other ethnic enclaves and noticed that they all had their own centers and wondered how he could start an organization for his own community.
In the mid-20th century, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions hit the island of Faial, in the Azores then Senator John. F Kennedy co-sponsored a bill in 1958 that allowed quota-free visas for Portuguese migrants. Almost 5,000 people immigrated to the United States from Portugal under the Azores refugee laws. During the 1960s, over 73,000 Portuguese moved to the United States
âNot only did we have to prove ourselves to the community of San Jose, but also to our own community,â said Machado. âIt didn’t exist where we came from. In the Azores, most of the services revolved around the church and the idea of ââa public service, a secular organization, was totally foreign to them.
He teamed up with his wife Vicky Machado, who also worked for Santa Clara County, and seven other co-founders to incorporate the organization into a nonprofit in 1976.
âMost of us came here when we were kids and saw the struggles our people went through,â Vicky said. âWe would go with our parents to the doctor when we were 11 or 12 to help translate. My parents’ generation worked very hard and struggled because they didn’t know the language and life here is very different. People would go to a travel agency to get help with their paperwork or to a priest to help them find a doctor, so we knew we had to do something to help our community.
Maria Orr, 64, suffers from scleroderma, a rare disease that results in tightening and hardening of the skin and connective tissues. Orr was completely paralyzed from an accident two years ago, but underwent rare surgery that helped her regain movement and function in her limbs. Orr said it was her two sons who helped her find POSSO.
âIt’s a blessing because I can’t cook and I can’t touch the stove,â she said. âAnd then financially it helps me a lot – without the help of POSSO I would probably be homeless. “
Orr said his youngest son’s business had shut down during the pandemic for a few months and they were relying on meals from the home delivery service to keep them afloat.
Alice Sarmento, 89, who has lived in San JosÃ© for 52 years, calls POSSO her second home. Sarmento started attending the center around 30 years ago and said the meals have been a big help as at his age it is more difficult to work.
Sarmento also appreciates the socialization opportunities offered by the organization and its close links with the Portuguese community. Sarmento said she immigrated to the United States at the age of 37 in hopes of a better life.
“Not being able to socialize makes me sad,” she said in Portuguese, through a translator. She enjoys playing cards, taking exercise classes, and crocheting in the center.
âAs people immigrated here, they didn’t speak the language and didn’t know what resources were available,â Ferreira said. âA lot of them would say ‘I can’t.’ Word posso means “I can” in Portuguese. And that’s how the name was born.
THE WISH BOOK SERIES
The Wish Book is an annual series of The Mercury News that invites readers to help their neighbors.
Donations will help the Portuguese Organization for Social Services and Opportunities (POSSO) deliver hot meals to homebound elderly people who are too fragile to visit the center. POSSO wishes to offer 30 seniors five hot meals per week for 10 weeks. Objective: $ 24,000.
HOW TO GIVE
Donate to wishbook.mercurynews.com or mail the coupon.
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