|Group launches effort to connect Hispanics|
|Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor|
|Monday, 23 September 2013 09:57|
According to the U.S. Census, the Latino population of Wood County grew 40 percent between 2000 and 2010 alone, totaling 5,600 by decade's end.
With those kind of numbers one could expect there to be some sort of county-wide organization actively serving Latinos. But no such group has existed - until now.
La Conexion de Wood County, a new Latino community organization, will hold its kick-off event on Friday from 6-8 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main, Bowling Green.
Gloria Pizana, a member of the Steering Committee for La Conexion, said the group will serve as a welcoming resource of unity, representation, and education for the Latino community of Wood County.
According to its mission statement, the organization seeks to establish and nurture connections among Latinos, as well as between Latinos and the wider Wood County community.
The mission and programs of La Conexion and the Bowling Green partnerships it has established so far will be presented during the Sept. 27 evening of information and celebration introduced by Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. The event will include live entertainment, Latino music and light refreshments.
"Join us as we celebrate our varied Latino heritages during Latino Heritage Month" which is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, invited fellow committee member Beatriz Maya.
"We want to cover education, health, dancing, music, all of the above," added Pizana, a retired 30-year employee of Bowling Green State University, which is also her alma mater.
A 1972 Eastwood High School graduate, Pizana was instrumental in the formation of the Latino Student Union at BGSU during her freshman year, and she later started another organization for Latino faculty and staff along with local resident Marsha Olivarez.
"We were able to endow five or six student scholarships in conjunction with LSU," said Pizana, who with Maya and Olivarez, the co-founders of La Conexion, believes strongly in the power of cooperative groups to empower individuals and communities.
An early, and major success for the fledgling organization is the recent securing of a $10,000 grant from the Presbyterian Church of the USA and its Self Development of Peoples Fund, according to Marcy St. John, clerk of session for the Bowling Green First Presbyterian Church.
"They have been working on a shoestring and all of a sudden this moves them into big time," St. John said.
The collaboration between the church and La Conexion began when First Presbyterian donated classroom space to the group so they could conduct English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.
ESL classes at Bowling Green are only held during the day "and we saw a need for evening classes," Pizana explained.
La Conexion has also received a small grant from the Cocoon Shelter "and with this money we are visiting labor camps, seeing needs, translating," assessing "immediate food and clothing needs and giving information on where to go for assistance."
"The Wood County Library has donated books we're taking to labor camps," Pizana said, listing a third community tie-in.
She added that the social side of La Conexion is also going to be emphasized - a way to celebrate local Latinos' common heritage in all its color, tradition and high spirits.
Friday's kick-off event is free and open to the public.
Next up on La Conexion's calendar will be a fall program celebrating Latino Awareness Month. It will be a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration slated for Oct. 20 at the city's Simpson Garden building on Wintergarden Road.
"We're going to invite people to put something on the altar, like a picture of their loved one," Pizana said. "There will be refreshments, singing, and we will talk about the Dia de los Muertos tradition."
BGSU students will be doing face-painting for children and there will be a short play directed by Jo Beth Gonzalez and Dallas Black, teachers at Bowling Green High School.
The Oct. 20 celebration will also be free and open to the public.
|Last Updated on Monday, 23 September 2013 09:59|
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