Seniors Surviving on Low Income: Ms. Lew’s Story

Ms. Lew is a senior and homeowner living in Beacon Hill for over 20 years. A limited English speaker and no one with whom to live, she was grateful to access services at El Centro de la Raza. Her living arrangement is different than her peers, predisposing her to the hardship of instrumental activities of daily living. She learned about the Community Connector Program through her regular visits to our Food Bank. She became acquainted quickly and developed a trusting relationship with the program staff. Click here to read how trust can lead to empowerment.

Ms. Lew brought in her letters, including one that involved property taxes. Had it not been for the program staff, Ms. Lew would have paid more than she could afford toward her property tax. Low-income seniors live on fixed incomes and are concerned about paying property taxes on a home that is worth millions of dollars today. Our program staff helped Ms. Lew apply for a property tax exemption and renewed her lifeline assistance for her home phone.

During a politically delicate time, Ms. Lew has found a second home at El Centro de la Raza where she can speak her own language and feel safe. She has referred her neighbors and friends in need to resolve transportation challenges and food insecurity. Ms. Lew is very thankful to El Centro de la Raza for offering companionship and providing services like the Food Bank, translation, and benefits enrollment.

This holiday season, please consider donating to a program that helps low-income seniors make ends meet and develop friendships along the way.

What a citizenship question on the Census could mean

Oppose the Department of Commerce by August 7 from adding the insidious question about citizenship status on the 2020 U.S. Census.

Policymakers rely on the American Community Survey and U.S. Census to allocate resources for government services. Both datasets fail to reflect the presence of communities of color in the United States where their representation is historically disproportionate. A controversial question in the upcoming 2020 count threatens to strip away the economic, social, political, and legal rights of people of color.

The Department of Commerce plans to gather complete and accurate information by including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire. We fear that the collection of citizenship information will be used against families and ultimately suppress the number of responses. By removing that question, we ensure a full, fair, and accurate count. Those are the principles of the U.S. Census.

We have seen the devastating, disconcerting, and detrimental impacts of the current administration’s anti-immigrant practices and policies on our children and families. Therefore, it is imperative to urge the Secretary of Commerce to reverse the misguided decision to add a citizenship question on the next Census form.

We hope you join us in this fight to remove this untested question and speak up for those whose voices have been oppressed.

Our children are the world’s hope for justice for all

Some of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history involve the barbaric act of taking children from their parents: Black children were sold as property during slavery, and Native American children were stolen to strip them of their culture. Now it is the children of the immigrant Latino community that is being victimized by Trump’s policies to halt undocumented immigration and asylum seekers.

Impacts of Family Separation on Children’s Development
Trump is violating the human rights of innocent children. Babies as young as 12 months old are being separated from their mothers. That act is child abuse. Starting in October 2016, nearly 1,800 immigrant families faced forced separation. However, since Trump took office, his administration has only inflated that figure. If we were to take a snapshot of his policies, we see that between May 6 and May 19 in 2018, 658 children were separated from 638 parents.

Separating children from their parents is so traumatic for their developing brains that it should be considered inhumane. Doctors state that separation will predispose affected children to a lifetime of health problems. According to Dr. Lisa Fortuna, director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Boston Medical Center, “Separations from… parents, especially in moments of extreme distress and displacement, has [a] very negative impact on child well being, mental health, and development.” Those effects are not only detrimental but also irreversible.

False Rhetoric about Immigrant Communities
Latino children and parents are being torn apart as a mid-term election strategy for Trump to mobilize his base. Our children are being given up as political red meat while Trump is using dog whistle language claiming they are not like your children. Therefore, they are less than human.

The Department of Justice’s Zero Tolerance Policy of separating children from their parents at the border is immoral and sinful. This is not who we are as a people. This is not who we are as a country. Our values are compassion and empathy for the most vulnerable. We do not abandon those that experienced persecution, trauma, and extreme distress.

We are in a time when many vulnerable communities are demanding legal representation and protection. Therefore, we must not normalize the fears carried by immigrant families that they will be raided and persecuted. Immigrants and asylum seekers should not be used in the political rhetoric as a scapegoat to make the U.S. vulnerable. However, the effects of stricter immigration enforcement weaken our country. For example, in December 2017, NPR has reported on the anticipated landscape worker shortage as a result of the policy enforcement. We are hearing stories coming from Ohio that owners are struggling to address the shortage issue.

Take Action Now
We call upon men, women, youth, and all other people of good will to DEFEND OUR CHILDREN. We need your help in making calls, sending emails to your Congressional delegation, using your voice, and visiting holding sites to shed light on these injustices. Use all your power to force the administration to end these cruel abuses. Our children as all children should be the hope of the world. Please join us in dismantling the barbaric practice of separating families at the border by:

• Urging your elected officials to support the passages of the bipartisan HELP Separated Children Act (H.R. 5950 | S.B. 2937).
• Pressuring the Department of Homeland Security to abandon the costly and inhumane practice of separating families.

For more information, please click here for a timeline of Trump rolling back protections for children and what is a myth and what is a fact.

Senators:

Patty Murray: 206-553-5545

Maria Cantwell: 206-220-6400

District Representatives:

Suzan DelBene: 425-485-0085

Rick Larsen: 425-252-3188

Jaime Herrera Beutler: 360-695-6292

Dan Newhouse: 509-713-7374

Cathy McMorris Rodgers: 509-529-9358

Derek Kilmer: 360-797-3623

Pramila Jayapal: 206-674-0040

David Reichert: 425-677-7414

Adam Smith: 425-793-5180

Denny Heck: 253-533-8332

Job Openings at El Centro de la Raza!

El Centro de la Raza is Now Hiring! 

Click here for a list of all current job openings here at El Centro de la Raza! We are hiring for a variety of positions and are looking for experienced and passionate individuals to join our staff as we work to build the Beloved Community.

If you or anyone you know is interested in working at El Centro de la Raza, please contact Shannon Armstrong at sarmstrong@elcentrodelaraza.org, or 206-957-4626.

El Centro de la Raza’s 2017 Community Needs Assessment

El Centro de la Raza conducts a formal Community Needs Assessment every three years to summarize the current needs of the Latino community in our region. This assessment directly informs El Centro de la Raza’s organizational strategic planning process to design, improve and sustain effective programs and services that best serve the community’s needs. It’s also used to advocate for the community at the local and state level.

For this year’s Community Needs Assessment, we conducted two studies using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach. CBPR engages community members as leaders in planning and implementing the study as well as analyzing and creating a plan of action from the results. This approach maintains accountability to communities most impacted by the issues studied.

We found that the top three concerns in our community are in the areas of employment, discrimination, and housing. The most pressing needs are for secure, family-wage jobs; safety from interpersonal and institutional discrimination on the basis of race, language, and immigration status; and for affordable housing with access to transit, stores and businesses, and childcare. The complete report (available here) covers these findings in more detail, and includes information about the other six areas we studied (education, healthcare, financial stability, transportation, nutrition/food access, and service utilization).

El Centro de la Raza’s leadership team is developing recommendations based on our findings for service providers, funders, and advocacy work. We will release a report summarizing these recommendations later this year.

Read the Community Needs Assessment here.

A December to Remember for José Martí Child Development Center

The children of the José Martí Child Development Center enjoyed a special month of December, following the theme of the month “Family Celebrations.”

On Monday, December 11, our children, teachers and even participants from the Senior Program enjoyed the joyful spirit of Christmas with a visit from Santa! Each child received a picture with Santa in front of a beautiful winter scene, and our friends from the University Sunrise Rotary Club, who volunteered their time for the ninth year in a row, made the celebration extra special by gifting each child a new book, to encourage their love of reading and help build their home library.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, Toys for Tots made a generous toy delivery so we could provide gifts to each of the 308 students of the José Martí Child Development Center at Beacon Hill and Hirabayashi Place and our Luis Alfonso Velasquez After School Program. This was made possible thanks to the hard work of Julius Gibson and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves with support from the local fire stations. Every single one of our children was overjoyed to receive an individual gift, and these gifts helped ensure a joyful holiday season for our beautiful children!

It was a magical time for everyone and for us it is a rewarding feeling to see so many smiling faces. Mil gracias to the University Sunrise Rotary Club, JMCDC Staff, Toys for Toys and Julius Gibson for helping to bring so much joy to our children during this holiday season.