9 Stories from the El Centro de la Raza Community

El Centro de la Raza began in 1972. Since then, we have continued to serve as a voice and hub for the Latino community and a support system for communities of color in Seattle. We have grown quite a bit since then, but we keep the same values. Our community means everything to us and we continue to be grateful for the community members who use our services and trust us as they go through both difficult and exciting parts of their live. 2020 was especially difficult for many in our community and we saw even more need for our services. If you are interested in supporting our organization and the services we offer the community, please click the donate button on the top right of our site. A recurring or one-time donation is always appreciated and an valued action. Here are some stories from this last year that we hope will give you a picture of our familia and the work that we do.  


People at El Centro de la Raza Care about us, says Javier*, 60, who has been joining us during our Senior lunches since September 2020, after some friends told him about it. He says that the free hot lunch five days a week has helped him emotionally through difficult times. He made a point to mention the care Flor, one of the coordinators of our lunch program, gives to the community. Javier feels the program is like a blessing to him. 

*Name has been changed for privacy

Image Description: Senior in blue sweater smiling in front of El Centro de la Raza building

Hilda & Lourdes

Early on in the pandemic, our Business Opportunity Center staff contacted Sabor Delicioso co-owners, Hilda and Lourdes, with good news to share. Hilda and Lourdes breathed a sigh of relief: the City of Seattle approved their small business to receive a total of $10,000 in funding and mitigate the loss of their income caused by COVID-19. With that money, they: 

  • Paid for food permits and licenses 
  • Paid rent, utilities, and transportation 
  • Recouped their loss in revenue from catering and other events 

Our BOC staff helped Hilda and Lourdes by providing hours of assistance over a conference call to translate and offer guidance in applying for the City’s Small Business Stabilization Fund. El Centro de la Raza’s Business Opportunity Center continues to help small businesses owners with applying to grants and loans. Support Sabor Delicioso and our other food vendors by visiting our plaza. You can find our food vendor schedule here.

Image Description: Photo of Hilda & Lourdes standing in front of their food cart smiling and laughing


Adrian* worked two jobs to meet his family’s needs. Due to the pandemic, he lost one of his jobs and his family of five was significantly impacted. He lost his second job after the Stay Home Stay Healthy Order’s extension. 

Adrian was increasingly stressed and concerned about their situation. He had to somehow make rent, in addition to buying groceries and paying for utilities. Your support of our Emergency Response Fund made it possible to provide Adrian’s family with food and rental assistance. He said, “Mi vida ha cambiado drásticamente por la mejor.” (English translation: “My life has changed drastically for the better.”) 

Adrian feels blessed that El Centro de la Raza understands and meets the community’s needs. El Centro de la Raza is also providing Adrian’s eldest son a laptop so that he can continue his education from home. 

*Name has been changed for privacy

Photo of man in front of El Centro de la Raza


Since March 2020, El Centro de la Raza has been partnering with the Schultz Family Foundation to distribute funding to restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic through The Plate Fund. The Plate Fund is a one-time funding source of $500 Visa gift card that can be utilized in any store to purchases necessities like food or even for things like online payments for utility bills or rent. During the pandemic, the restaurant industry was incredibly unstable due to the constant closing and reopening of businesses due to the changing restrictions and phases. Many restaurant workers lost income due to the businesses shutting down, to severe reductions in hours, or even contracting COVID-19 forcing them to take time off work. The pandemic has shown us how difficult it is to navigate resource, however, many restaurant workers also had to deal with the language barrier that they faced when they tried to find any assistance or aid. 

One participant, in particular, called El Centro de la Raza and told staff that they were rejected from many other organizations and were in desperate need of support. This participant, Martin Sanchez*, is a 70-year-old man who could not work as a result of his age and diabetes, making him at higher risk for contracting COVID-19. His daughter was also laid off from Mcdonald’s in early March and had not been able to find work since then. Both father and daughter had exhausted the last of their savings and sold their car for additional income but were in dire need of financial support as they had medical expenses and housing and food expenses. Due to the language barrier, technology barrier, and limited ability to read or write, the family had difficulties accessing relief resources. Our staff at El Centro de La Raza was able to work with them to get Martin’s daughter qualified to receive a $500 Visa gift card to the Plate Fund and referred them to receive rental assistance as well. 

*Name has been changed for privacy

Image Description: Photo of Elizabeth in front of computer


Elizabeth, originally from Colombia, started her tax services business United Enterprise Tax Services 10 years ago. With the help of the Business Opportunity Center (BOC) of the Center de la Raza, she was approved funding for her business under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This government aid program provides funding to businesses impacted by the COVID-19. Elizabeth happily continues her business operations and serves her community due to these funds. For her services, please contact Elizabeth via email: uetaxes@gmail.com

“It is great labor and excellent work that you [BOC] and el Centro de la Raza are doing for our community. May God bless you! 

Elizabeth, originalmente de Colombia, comenzó su negocio de contabilidad e impuestos United Enterprises Tax Services hace 10 años. Con la asesoría del Centro de Oportunidad de Negocios del Centro de la Raza, fue aprobada para recibir fondos de ayuda empresaria por parte del Programa de Protección de Pago (PPP). El programa gubernamental proporciona fondos a empresas impactadas por COVID-19. Elizabeth felizmente continua su negocio y sirviendo su comunidad con la ayuda de los fondos. Para sus servicios, pueden contactar a Elizabeth por correo electrónico: uetaxes@gmail.com

“De verdad es una maravillosa labor y un excelente trabajo el que usted y el Centro de la Raza están realizando ayudando a la comunidad. ¡Que Dios les bendiga! 


Sandra*, who emigrated from Venezuela 3 years ago, says she approached El Centro de la Raza seeking information about resources that will help me succeed as I face the reality of living in a new country. Sandra enrolled in the Business Launch and Grow and the First Time Homebuyers webinar, both trainings offered by our Business Opportunity Center. She says that she was pleased by the level of commitment, clarity, and knowledge of her instructors. She is now that every training that El Centro de la Raza provides leaves a seed of knowledge and wanting to continue learning and growing. She emphasizes the value of finding people to guide you when you are adjusting to a new language, culture, and education. Since joining these trainings, she has been sharing about the opportunities El Centro de la Raza provides to her circle of friends.

*Name has been changed for privacy

Our José Martí Child Development Center

Our teacher at José Martí Child Development Center reads a story in Spanish for the children who are following along from their homes. Click to watch how we are engaging young children at this time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eazipYwkkBI.

It has been amazing that José Martí Child Development Center has continued its work through the pandemic. In August we celebrated our brilliant youth graduates with Pizza, Cupcakes, gifts, and most importantly, their diploma!

Totem After School Program

On March 17, 8 middle school youth from the Totem After School Program attended Latino Legislative Day Leadership workshops. To their surprise, the workshops were completely led by high school youth. Among the topics discussed were Anti – Blackness in Latinx communities, mental health, and environmental justice. As youth left the workshop they shared with the facilitators, “I learned A LOT today, I’m glad I was here”. During reflections the next day in the after school program, youth wanted to know how they could get to that level, “How do I facilitate a workshop like them when I grow up?” youth were reassured, they are already capable and on track to lead their own workshops. The lessons offered during the cultural enrichment segment are providing youth a social justice framework. 

Image Description: Totem after school participants with El Centro de la Raza sign.

Through an interdepartmental partnership, youth from the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School and FW Totem After School Program were invited to submitted entries to the Scholastics, “Vaping is Not My Thing” contest. To enter the contest participants had to create an infographic poster targeted to their peers and informing them of the dangers of vaping. Two youth of the Plaza Roberto Maestas After School program were able to submit entries. Through the process, both scholars developed their own stance to say no to vaping and encourage their peers to also steer away from the dangers of vaping. We are very proud of them both! Here are is one of our scholar’s entries: 

Image Description: Photo of student project poster with headline Vaping is Not Cool


Piedro*, 67, who says he found out about El Centro de la Raza’s senior lunch program, has been joining us for hot lunch in September. He says he is happy to part of the community that is present for lunch. Piedro also mentioned how coming to the lunch program has helped him with other resources, most notably support with signing up and getting his COVID-19 vaccination. Piedro has enjoyed the other activities the lunch program has for seniors during the 11a-1p M-F schedule, including dancing and painting activities. El Centro de la Raza offers 43 programs and continues to be a resource hub for the community.  

*Name has been changed for privacy