August 2022: Call to Action, Let’s Fix the Harm!

Fix the Current Harm from 450,000 Sea-Tac Flights

It has been almost a year since El Centro de la Raza started an Environmental Justice Organizing and Education training with the Plaza Roberto Maestas and El Patio residents that aims to develop and promote environmental justice leadership, education, and community organizing within the Latino Community. The program includes topics such as the environmental justice movement, climate change, air and noise pollution, community organizing and more! Through the program, we aim to enable and empower our community to act as leaders and influence policy makers to improve environmental and health outcomes for Beacon Hill residents as they are disproportionately impacted by surrounding airports and major roadways causing air and noise pollution.

Beacon Hill is surrounded by major roadways where aircraft fly over us on average every 90 seconds causing air and noise pollution that lead to health impacts such as asthma, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and other ailments. Noise pollution can lead to higher stress levels, less sleep, poorer cardiovascular health, and reduction in learning capabilities in youth. Yet our community, which is made up of primarily people of color, refugees, and immigrants, are not eligible for mitigation. Mitigation efforts can include funding for double panned windows to reduce the indoor noise, or more tree canopy to help filter and reduce air and noise pollution. Where you live, your income, race or language ability shouldn’t determine how healthy you are. However, the reality is that as low-income people of color, people are likelier to be disproportionately harmed by environmental issues.

Thirty community members from El Patio & Plaza Roberto Maestas have completed the Environmental Justice and education training with El Centro de la Raza. Through community organizing and leadership community members have come together as an important part of the fight against the exacerbated threat of air and noise pollution from the proposed Sea-Tac Airport Sustainable Air Master Plan (SAMP).

Through our Environmental Justice and Education Program, participants gained the knowledge and tools to make their voices heard as they fight for environmental justice for their families, friends, and community, including through story telling. Participants have expressed their concern in the added harm that SAMP will bring to their communities as flights are slowly increasing to pre-COVID flight numbers.

Community member Sandra Santos has expressed her concern in the increased flights as she is now aware of the health impacts it has on her family, especially her daughter who suffers from depression and is beginning to show symptoms of asthma. Santos is also aware of the climate impacts that aircraft aviation emissions will account for 25% of the global carbon budget by 2050. Forest fires is an additional concern Santos is worried will continues to worsen if nothing is done about the Climate Crisis. Santos fights for environmental justice for the health and future of her daughter as she wants a cleaner and sustainable world for her daughter.

Participants have continued to be involved after completing the EJ Training course by helping collects signatures for the Fix the Current Harm letter of concern that will be included in the comments to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about the SeaTac Airport service expansion. El Centro de la Raza is continuing to organize more community members to participate in the Environmental Justice & Education program to continue to grow the movement. To support airport-impacted communities sign and share the letter of concern to help reach our goal of 4,000 signatures.

Food Bank Innovations to meet the moment

At El Centro de la Raza, we meet our community where the community needs us.  Like any organization facing new challenges, the moment called for innovation when the pandemic hit. Food insecurity was on the rise, especially for our elderly on fixed incomes as prices rose and it was no longer safe for them to gather at our food bank.

As our supporters may recall, before we had a grocery store model. The community would select and gather what they needed on the ground floor of the historic building. It was a time many socialized and connected to their own cultures through food, as so many of us do.

But as the pandemic surged, many in our community started to fear for their health. Some who were immunocompromised feared even leaving their homes. Their need for food never declined, and in fact rose because the prices for basic staples soared, so we had to act fast and keep both the community and our staff safe.

We decided to move to a walking version of a “drive-through” model.  We moved our food bank to the basement where our senior lounge once was and transformed it into our staging and distribution grounds to assemble prepacked, nourishing grocery bags for pickup.  All staff wore masks to stay safe and we encouraged our clients to also do so to keep one another safe. 

Once we completed the assembly of these prepacked bags, we handed the bags to clients through an outside window, where our clients would meet us in a line, wearing masks, and keeping six feet of distance between each other to gather their groceries.  This pickup continues and takes place Thursdays and Fridays between 10:00AM – 12:00PM and 2:00PM – 4:00PM every week.

The next challenge we faced was that many of our clients feared leaving their homes due to COVID-19. In fact, most of our clients are vulnerable and over 60 years old.  To address this need, we started home deliveries on Wednesdays.

Once vaccines and boosters became more widely available, we saw more of our elderly feel safe enough to resume visiting our food bank in-person.  We also started to host vaccine clinics at our Seattle and Federal Way offices as often as possible. 

While we are glad to see a degree of stabilization in FY2022 from the initial fear in the community regarding the pandemic, inflation has caused new problems.  Prices have spiked for gas, rent, supplies and food, while people in our elderly community continue to do their best on the same fixed incomes.  Each bag costs more to assemble. Our food bank food demands are getting higher for more fresh produce items and protein as well as we become more of the primary source for some in our community. We try our best to order them as much as we can, but these are items our clients articulate a greater need for more than before. 

While demands grow among our clients, we are also seeing new clients, as a result of the rising costs of food. We will continue to welcome anyone who needs help without zip code restrictions for as long as we can.  We are here to serve and represent our Beloved Community and gladly share what has worked to meet their evolving and growing needs.

Returning Over a Quarter of a Million Dollars in Stolen Wages

The seven-year partnership with the City of Seattle Office of Labor Standards has allowed El Centro de la Raza to recover over $300,000 in wages for our Spanish-speaking workers in the community.  In 2022, we have recovered $40,000 already.

Through our Work Center, we are able to speak daily to workers who call in, and to deliver Know Your Rights (KYR) trainings to ensure workers are informed about Seattle labor standards.  We teach about local Seattle laws, state laws, federal laws, and workplace injuries.

In our community, Spanish-speaking workers suffer higher rates of labor violations in Seattle/King County. The two labor laws we see most frequently violated are wage theft and lack of paid sick time.

Our continuous partnership with Seattle Office of Labor Standards gives us hope and energy for the future. The impact that this work has on the community goes far beyond numbers and money. We focus on assuring dignity, respect and a better quality of life for all workers.

We hope to continue to expand our program to reach and empower workers to be able to defend themselves against the exploitation of their labor.

Good news in efforts to expand affordable housing into Columbia City!

On July 21, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who authored JumpStart legislation, announced $80 million in JumpStart housing awards that will fund projects creating or preserving 1,769 homes. Mosqueda stressed that these 20 projects coming online will follow community visions and meet community needs by including family-sized units and on-site services, such as daycares or education and job centers for youth who’ve experienced homelessness.

From those funds, El Centro de la Raza will receive funding for our Columbia City development, which will create 87 units for low-income families and individuals.

Events: August 2022

August 12, 2022: Somos Seattle Pride Celebration at El Centro de la Raza!

Everyone is invited free event to celebrate our 4th Annual Seattle Latinx Pride Festival! Let’s celebrate our LGBTQ and Latino/a/x identities

Acompañanos en el cuarto festival del Orgullo LGBTQ Latino! Ven celebrar el orgullo de la comunidad Gay, Lesbiana, Bi, Trans Latina.

ENTERTAINMENT, DANCING, FOOD, COMMUNITY RESOURCES/VENDORS & MUCH MORE! // ENTRETENIMIENTO, BAILE, COMIDA, BEBIDAS, RECURSOS COMUNITARIOS Y MUCHO MAS!

Event: 4th Seattle Latinx Pride Festival

Date: Friday, August 12, 2022

Time: 5:00 PM -10:00 PM

Location: Plaza Roberto Maestas, 1650 S Roberto Maestas Festival Street, Seattle WA 98144

August 13: Movie Night at El Centro! Noche de Pelicula!

El Centro de la Raza looks forward to our monthly market to support our local businesses and to host a movie night!

More information to follow as the date approaches in the link below!

Event: Noche de Pelicula y Mercado!

Date: Saturday, August 13, 2022

Time: 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Location: Plaza Roberto Maestas, 1650 S Roberto Maestas Festival Street, Seattle WA 98144

August 13: Vaccine Clinic

Date: Saturday, August 13, 2022

Time: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Location: Centilia Cultural Center/ Plaza Roberto Maestas, 1660 S Roberto Maestas Festival Street, Seattle WA 98144

August 14: 5th Seattle Urban Book Expo!

The Black and Brown Literary Get-Down returns to El Centro De la Raza on August 14th, 2022. Free fun in one of the largest BIPOC book celebrations in the area! Food, community and fun for all ages.

Event: 5th Seattle Urban Book Expo

Date: Sunday, August 14, 2022

Time: 10:00 AM  8:00 PM

Location: Plaza Roberto Maestas, 1650 S Roberto Maestas Festival Street, Seattle WA 98144

October 8: Reserve your tickets for our 5oth Anniversary Gala now!

Celebrate 50 triumphant years of El Centro de la Raza with us at our annual Building the Beloved Community Gala on October 8th, 2022. It has been an honor to spend the last half-century dedicating our work towards serving our community, and we have so many people that we are grateful to. We want to dedicate this momentous anniversary year to:

  • Pioneers of social change, including advocates for mutli-racial unity, shepherds of anti-war movements, local faith communities, volunteers, and activists
  • The people who originally occupied the old Beacon Hill school in the name of dignity and for a better life for the Latino community
  • Our generous supporters from all walks of life, who have made it possible for us to continue our work, from 1972 to this present day

It is an honor to still be here today providing critical services, life-changing opportunities, developing resiliency, and hope. We are so fortunate to not only be surviving, but thriving, with all thanks due to our incredible community of supporters, donors, residents, and staff.

REGISTER HERE

Join us on Saturday, October 8, 2022 for our 50th Anniversary Building the Beloved Community Gala and take part in an exciting live event that raises funds for vital programs and services that benefit more than 21,000 individuals and families across our region. The evening also includes the presentation of our Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Awards & Scholarships. Registration will become available later this year.

Please call (206) 957-4649 or email events@elcentrodelaraza.org for more information.