Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Latino Community Preparedness: Is This a Need?

Hi all!

Well, with less than four months left in my term, I thought I would give you a Latino Community Preparedness program update. Time has flown by and this program has been so well received. I mentioned in my blog back in November, that the Latino program was created to help grow the Red Cross presence in Latino communities. This program is so much more than the growth of our presence, or the growth of bilingual volunteers. This program isn't even really about the Red Cross; it’s about the people we serve.
Cruz Roja outreach in Chowchilla
I started a partnership last year with the Fresno County Office of Education, and I have extended this partnership with the Office of Education in Merced and Kern to present to the families of the Migrant Education program. When I started this partnership, I didn’t really know what the program was about, until I met some of the families. This program was designed to help migrant families, those families who work in the fields and move with the harvest. When I learned this, I thought to myself, “this population needs to not only know how to prepare their families in the event of an emergency, but they also need to know what to do when someone is injured.” Many times these families live in small spaces or in multi-family homes, so knowing how to escape a home in the event of any emergency was important for them.

My partnership with the Office of Education was only one of my ways to interact with the Latino communities around the Central Valley. I then began a partnership with the Community Food Bank. I reached out to them so I could reach the communities being affected by the drought, which again was much of the migrant population. No water, no crops, no work, no money to feed their families or to think of emergency preparedness. There are many factors that can cause a family to not be prepared or take the time to take a CPR/First Aid class; many of these families don’t have the money, the time, or even the knowledge that there are programs out there to help them.

AmeriCorps member Daniel Avina participating in the
Latino Community Preparedness Program at Kern Public Health
Now, my program is not only for the migrant community. I had to think about the Latino population that is not part of the migrant community, and do I reach them. Last year, I was placed in the spotlight and asked to represent the Red Cross on Univision’s morning show “Arriba Valle Central.” I have continued this partnership this year, but this year I have included radio and Univision events. To be honest, I didn't know if anyone was paying attention; that is until I was spotted by my friends and clients during my presentation. Positive confirmation was given after I promoted the Home Fire Campaign event in Fresno; the audiences began to call for us to go out to help their families with smoke detectors and were very thankful for this program.

AmeriCorps member Veronica Lases
participating in a Spanish radio station interview
As this year has gone by, I was noticing that I was reaching the population I really set out to reach, but was I actually helping them. My numbers were higher than last year when this program didn’t exist. I went from 222 Latinos presented to and 1,949 outreach to 670 presented to and 3,200 in outreach. But a question has lingered, “Is this program an actual need or am I making it a need?”

My answer came on February 11th when I conducted a presentation to a small group of migrant families in Fowler. As I began to talk about “Making a Plan”, I asked “does everyone here have a smoke detector?” The majority of the families shook their heads, and I gasped. I was not passing judgment, but felt this overwhelming sense of worry. So I received the names of the families that need the smoke detectors, and began to work on a plan to get them alarms.

In one instance we visited a client’s house and were instantly heart broken. They were migrant workers living in a house behind a main home, in between vineyards with no front door and so many possibilities for an emergency. We spoke with the woman and provided her with a smoke detector. When we left, we fully realizing why my program exists.

Latino Community Preparedness Program during a Mother's Symposium
The Latino Community Preparedness Program exists for those communities that feel as if there is no help for them. Yes, there is a need for Latino community outreach in the Central Valley.

If you are a Spanish speaker interested in volunteering with the Latino Community Preparedness program, click here to learn more and apply.

Veronica Lases
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Latino Community Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central California Region

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you are really making an impact in the Latino Community. Way to go Veronica!