From September 15 to October 15, communities across the United States are celebrating National Hispanic American Heritage Month. September 15 marks the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Just a day later, Mexico celebrates its independence and the day after that, Chile. This time of recognition, which began as a week in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded to a month in 1988 under President Ronald Reagan, is a chance to recognize and applaud the many rich cultural traditions, stories, and contributions of Hispanic American citizens to our country. At the Murdock Trust, we join this celebration and pause to recognize some of the organizations we partner with that serve Hispanic American communities and uplift Hispanic voices in our region.
With locations throughout the Seattle area, Casa Latina advances the power and well-being of Latino* immigrants through programs that target education, employment, and community organizing. This organization’s programs combine direct services to our region’s newest residents with community organizing. This helps Latino immigrants meet their most immediate needs while also becoming spokespeople in the fight for a better future for all immigrants.
Studies show that simply having a Spanish-speaking therapist is not enough for immigrants in need of mental health care. They need someone who understands their cultural context. So Northwest Catholic Counseling Services started a culturally specific mental health program called Levantar, which means to rise up in Spanish. This program fills a much-needed gap of culturally and linguistically tailored mental health care for Oregon’s quickly-growing Latinx community.
Meanwhile in Forest Grove, OR, Adelante Mujeres (Women Rise Up) is providing opportunities for low-income Latina women to participate and lead in their communities. The organization operates several programs such as Empresas, a small business development program; Chicas, an innovative youth development program; adult education and early childhood education programs; and a regenerative agriculture program. These services are designed by and for Latina women who envision a brighter future for all Latinx families.
Milagro, or Miracle Theater Group, in Portland, OR, provides Latino theater, culture, and arts education for the enrichment of all communities. Milagro productions have Latino roots, but they explore all corners of the human experience, touching on age-old themes and modern challenges. With an annual Milagro Mainstage series, touring programs, arts education, and community engagement programs, Milagro is lifting up Latino theater and inviting everyone into the experience.
Since 1972, Centro Cultural de Condado de Washington has been serving Washington County, OR, with multigenerational cultural programming. This organization’s work centers around seven core areas: K-12 STEAM education, workforce development, small business technical assistance, public engagement, civic advocacy, community health and wellness, transitional housing, and community-wide arts and cultural events. What does this look like day-to-day? It can be anything from a festival complete with mariachi and a car show to an economic symposium advocating for Latinx professionals.
This month, we think of these organizations and many others throughout our region. Through art, healthcare, education, and human services, these nonprofits are helping shape and tell the stories of our Hispanic American neighbors and community members for a brighter, richer future for us all.
Gracias por todo lo que hacen! Thank you for all you do!
*Note: It is Murdock Trust policy to always defer to the preferences of our grantees regarding cultural terms. In this blog post, organizations use Latinx and Latino/a. We have chosen to use the preferred phrase of each group when discussing their work.