Coast Latino Coalition turns six years old – Fort Bragg Advocate-News

Posted By on January 22, 2021

FORT BRAGG The Latino Coalition of the Mendocino Coast, also known as LatCo, was formed in the spring of 2015 to concentrate on issues of interest and concern to the Latinx community.

Monthly meetings began at Safe Passage Family Resource Centers large meeting room. We started off slowly, but in January of 2017, our LatCo meeting had standing room only the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump had occurred the day before. At the time, there was a great deal of uneasiness among Latinos throughout the country, fearful of Trumps promise to get tough on undocumented people and start deporting them.

The guest speaker that night was a local immigration attorney, Grady Gauthier, who spoke about the rights of the undocumented. Then-Police Chief Fabian Lizarraga was also there to offer assurances that his officers were not interested in whether or not a person was documented, and that he had no intention of assisting the feds should any ICE raids occur here.

From that time onward, immigration issues and social justice have been areas of interest for our Latino Coalition. Our mission is to empower our community through education, social justice, and cultural appreciation.

In 2017, we organized our first Fiesta, held in Bainbridge Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in September, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Several Latin American countries celebrate their independence days between mid-September and mid-October. These Fiestas are free events that welcome families, have music and games for the kids and food for sale from local Latinx vendors. LatCo has organized three of these September fiestas, but the pandemic prevented a 2020 Fiesta. If its possible, well bring back this tradition in 2021.

Helping Latinx youth is of great importance to the Latino community, so LatCo volunteers began offering free tutoring for Spanish-speaking school-age students one night a week at the Fort Bragg Library. Once COVID restrictions are lifted, we will try to revive that program. Future plans include strengthening our relationship with the L2 Club (two languages) at Fort Bragg High School, as both groups are interested in promoting college attendance.

LatCo also raises money for Latinx students who want to continue their education past high school. In 2018, we decided to try to fund a $500 scholarship, and by the end of our brief fundraising campaign, wed raised enough money to fund seven! We did the same in 2019, and in 2020, we awarded $500 scholarships to eleven students. Looking for a good cause to support especially if you want to share that $600 stimulus check? We are currently raising money for 2021 scholarships. Send a check for any amount to LatCos fiscal sponsor, Safe Passage, P.O. Box 1718, Fort Bragg 95437. Please put Latino Scholarship in the memo line.

The Latino Coalition can accomplish more by partnering with other community groups. Flockworks builds community through creativity. Members of LatCo, including artist and teacher Joanna Wiggington, volunteer to help create art projects that celebrate Hispanic heritage and resilience in children. Flockworks now provides an art teacher to the students at Dana Gray Elementary and hired a young Latina named Norma Trejo to teach the classes.

Safe Passage is another of LatCos partners. It serves as our fiscal agent, since LatCo is not an independent 501c3 we are more of a club that anyone can join. The Mendocino Coast Jewish Communitys Justice Group raises money for people studying for their Citizenship Exam at our Coastal Adult School. Those exams cost $725 (and the price has gone up) and the Justice Group raised enough money to cover that cost for 35 people to become citizens. LatCo member Linda Jupiter belongs to both groups and sees that were communicating effectively.

West Business Center also partnered with LatCo recently, to provide a panel discussion and information for Latinx business owners, or those who were looking to start a business here. That event was organized by LatCo member Bob Rodriguez. When LatCo member Michelle Frederick worked for West, she kept us informed about their programs for Spanish speakers.

We consider radio station KZYX a partner with LatCo as one of our members, Loreto Rojas, provides regular programming in Spanish with her broadcast partner Diana Coriat with a show called Mendo Latino that airs twice a month. Another LatCo member, Cal Winslow, produces a KZYX radio show with Loreto called Talking About California, which regularly airs issues of interest to the Latinx community.

LatCo member Araceli Rivas sends out our LatCo meeting minutes which keeps everyone on our e-list informed about what were up to, whether they can join our monthly Zoom meetings or not. Araceli serves on the Mendo Latinx Alliance for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force. This task force advises our county Board of Supervisors about the importance of including the Latinx community in its decision-making process, especially around COVID-19, and is advocating for all materials to be translated into Spanish.

Thanks to LatCo member Mary-Ellen Campbell, who also created our new logo, you can learn more at our LatCoFacebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/347535173190622 Join and like us.

All interested persons are invited to join our monthly meetings on the first Thursday of the month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. To receive invitations for upcoming meetings, and the Zoom link, join LatCos e-list by contacting Araceli at coalicionlatinacostamendocino@gmail.com.

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Coast Latino Coalition turns six years old - Fort Bragg Advocate-News

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