By: Jaquelin Ortiz Martinez, Interim Prevention & Community Education Coordinator
Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated from September 15th to October 15th, is a time to honor and recognize the rich cultural contributions of Hispanic and Latino/a/x communities in the United States. During this month, we also pay tribute to the remarkable community leaders through our Family Resource Centers who play pivotal roles in fostering healthy relationships and change.
As an agency, we strive to build community to address Relationship Violence. Part of the work to help end Relationship Violence and recognize it as everybody’s concern is to involve the community to help bring awareness. We achieve this goal through our partnerships with the Family Resource Centers. Human Options is proud to be the lead agency at two FRCs, Newport-Mesa Family Resource Center and Minnie Street Family Resource Center, in addition to providing supportive services to 6 FRCs in the network.
Through these centers, we have dedicated individuals who have been involved in our Community Engagement Advisory Committee (CEAC), with many for over 10 years. Not only are they involved in our advisory committee, but they also have other leadership roles in their communities. Our CEAC members follow the promotora model, being the eyes and ears of their community to inform our team on current needs, while also promoting our services to individuals and families they connect with. We sat down with these inspirational women to talk about their involvement and their why.
How did you get involved with CEAC at your local Family Resource Center?
We were either invited by a friend who was already involved or attended an event hosted by the CEAC.
What has kept you involved/engaged all these years?
We love to help others, especially when sharing information on various resources. The more we can inform ourselves, the more we can help others in our community.
Why is being a CEAC member important to you?
We enjoy the opportunity to help others in our community. We like the activities and events we get to do together, especially since we have the opportunity to share ideas.
“We become the bridge to our community” – C.I, 10 years
Why is supporting or giving back to your community important to you?
This is important because many families need to be aware of the resources available in our communities.
“It is a way of understanding and knowing the needs of the community and objectively help with real problems” – C.M, 9 years
“I have a daughter and I want the best for her, if my community is bad, that affects us as a society as well” – A.E, 8 years
How do you support families or individuals in your community who need help and services?
We listen to them and then refer them to the Family Resource Centers for information. This also includes any events happening at the center, the programs they offer, and any of the resources available in Orange County. We table for the FRCs and give out flyers to the community.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, what is important for community members to know about this month?
How our heritage and traditions are of value, especially our food. We want to ensure that these are not lost.
“It’s great to be aware of the diversity that we have in traditions, languages, attire, it’s something that we need to save as Hispanics” – A.E
“We are a community that can contribute, help and support without forgetting our roots. We can value our culture even if we are far from our home country” – C.M
What is one of your best memories since being a part of the CEAC?
“Participating in events such as Blue Ribbon Month, workshops on Domestic Violence, finances and others” – C.I
“When I was pregnant I began to get involved more to learn about resources to help my children” – Y.N, 6 years
“I trained to become a Zumba instructor and I began to give classes to the community…we would do it with the moms and kids from the school” -Y.R, 10 years
“Knowing that we’re not alone…it is like a family and we’re much healthier”- C.M
“They have helped me participate in school…I am a part of the PTA and in the school district I am the secretary of the DELAC (District English Learner Advisory Committee). I started with the CEAC and that was my motivation to be a part of my community. Thank you for existing CEAC, you will always be part of my memories” – A.E
We are honored to have these ladies form a part of our CEACs at our Newport-Mesa and Minnie St FRCs. To learn more about the protective factors and see which Family Resource Center is closest to you, visit www.factoc.org. If you are interested in participating in one of our committees, please reach out to our Community Engagement Coordinator, Rosie Montañez, for more information at: [email protected].