ORANGE COUNTY, NC (April 13, 2015)–Orange County is proud to announce the Orange County Department on Aging is the recipient of the 2016 Award for Excellence in Multicultural Aging presented by the American Society on Aging (ASA) for the Aging in Community with Mandarin-Speaking Seniors (ACMS) program.

The Award for Excellence in Multicultural Aging was presented by ASA’s Network on Multicultural Aging at the 2016 Aging in America Conference on March 21, in Washington DC. The award recognizes organizations that have demonstrated high-quality, innovative programs enhancing the lives of a multicultural aging population.

The Orange County Department on Aging (OCDoA) strives to help every senior, regardless of their cultural or economic background to age in place. OCDoA became a harbor for many Mandarin-speaking Chinese seniors even before the agency hired bilingual staff.

“We are thrilled to have received this national award for our work.  For us, it is just a part of what we do every day to serve the older adults and their families in our community.  Our community is multicultural and so are the Seymour and Passmore Centers.  It is just the way it should be,” said Janice Tyler, director of the Department on Aging.

Beginning in 2011, there was a steady trickle of Mandarin-speaking older adults who found Orange County’s senior center, the Seymour Center, in Chapel Hill a welcoming place. Within a short time, the center was filled with 10-20 Mandarin-speaking persons every morning.

By 2012, the OCDoA recognized the need for a more formal program for Mandarin-speaking elders. With the help from a two-year state Money Follows the Person and NC Lifespan grant in 2012, the OCDoA was able to employ a bilingual social worker to help with senior center programming as well as to help these individuals access and navigate local services.

Since 2012, the program has served nearly 400 Chinese seniors whose daily participation now accounts for 12% of the total senior center attendance. Many services have been offered to enhance their well-being and to reduce service gaps.

For more information about Aging in Community with Mandarin-Speaking Seniors, please contact Zhenzhen Yu at 919.259.0232. To learn more about Orange County Department on Aging’s programs, services and resources, please visit or call 919.968.2087.