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Age-Friendly Outreach to Immigrants Lands a National Award

Video screenshot of Lenny Orlov

Several years ago, Age Friendly Seattle coordinator Lenny Orlov decided to seek out older immigrants and refugees via outreach to Russian- and Amharic-speaking (from Ethiopia) communities and offer language interpretation at Age Friendly’s monthly Civic Coffee Hour. Initially, interpretation was provided in Khmer, Russian, Vietnamese, and Amharic. Community members responded! Lenny arranged for simultaneous translation during the in-person events, with interpreters speaking into a transmitter and guests wearing headphones—equipment available on loan from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

At times, there were multiple interpreters talking at the same time in the meeting room and an overflow audience. So, Lenny explored options for live streaming to community centers that could host a language interpreter. He had already begun live streaming on Facebook, which was not ideal, so additional options were considered.

When COVID restrictions forced cancellation of the March 2020 coffee hour, Lenny quickly pivoted to Microsoft Teams Live—a webinar format that offered auto-captioning (good for people who are hard of hearing) in multiple languages (good for our multicultural audience). Shortly thereafter, he created Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech & Resilience, a series of online events designed to reach older people quarantined at home. And then he partnered with The Seattle Public Library, further increasing reach to the community.

ASA 2021 Poster

Click on the image above to view a larger image of “Won’t You Be My SUBSCRIBER? Taking a Page Out of Mr. Rogers’ Playbook for Reaching Diverse Audiences on YouTube.”

Lenny’s intentional outreach to immigrant communities plus general outreach resulted in 6,440 people connecting with Age Friendly Seattle in 2020 through online events and video-recordings. Twice as many people participated in Civic Coffee Hours in 2020 as the year prior.

On April 9, Age Friendly Seattle was recognized by the American Society on Aging (ASA) at On Aging 2021, their national conference. Lenny accepted ASA’s Award for Excellence in Multicultural Aging and was invited to speak to conference participants.

Age Friendly Live events are currently available with captioning in seven languages, which Lenny selects out of a much longer list of options.

If you haven’t tuned into Age Friendly Seattle’s Close to Home (1st Thursday of each month) or Civic Coffee Hour programs (3rd Thursday of each month), it’s easy. Programs start at 10:30 a.m. and you enter the online event the same way each time. Go to and click on the blue button.

Once you have joined the event, you can select your preferred language if other than English. Click or tap “Captions/Subtitles” to select. Click “Caption/Subtitles Settings” to change size, color, contrast and/or background. Click “Playback speed” to slow down the live audio.

People without computers can participate in Age Friendly Live events by telephone, but only in English. For instructions, go to and click on the green button.

You can view past events on YouTube (click on the tools icon to select available languages). Subscribe to YouTube if you want to receive notice when new video-recordings are posted.

In addition to accepting the ASA award, Lenny’s poster about Age Friendly Live events was available throughout the conference (see graphic at right). Lenny also co-presented a conference workshop  with Bruce Carlson from AARP Washington. “Lights, Camera, Interaction! How to Engage Diverse Audiences With Video on Social Media” helped participants learn how to get started with video and maximize reach on social media, with ideas for engaging older adults of color, refugee elders, and other diverse communities.

For more information about Age Friendly Seattle, read the program’s 2020 Annual Report, visit or e-mail

Irene StewartContributor Irene Stewart manages communications for Aging and Disability Services and edits AgeWise King County on behalf of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services.


Posted in Technology