Network of organizations to help coast Hispanic community

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A group made up of organizations interested in serving the Hispanic Community says its membership list is growing. The Hispanic American Coastal Network meets every few months in Biloxi.

Red Cross officials say when looking for volunteers to run shelters, the ideal staff includes someone who speaks both English and Spanish. One way the agency has found interpreters is by being part of the Hispanic American Coastal Network.

"It's helped us because we are able to reach the community by coming to the Network," said Lorena Diaz, Red Cross Community Recover Specialist. "Utilizing the network of members and recruiting more volunteers that speak various languages. We could have them volunteer at the shelter or even volunteer year round when we're helping other victims of disaster, not just sheltered, but let's say affected by a fire. "

The Network is a way of sharing news that affects the Hispanic Community. State Farm representatives talked about State Farm Es Para Mi, a program that provides information on company scholarships for Latinos and on how to become United States citizens.

"We're not involved in the immigration process, but we are involved in helping clarify the proper process to go through for U.S. citizenship," said J.D. Sparks, State Farm Agency Executive. "Communication is important. We wanted to be someone that the Hispanic community could turn to. "

Members of the Network the common goal is to help the Hispanic Community. They believe they can do more together.

"Everybody who's interested in being of service to the community at large realizes that the Hispanic-Latino Community is a large part of that," said Mary Townsend of the El Pueblo Ministry. "They want to find ways to outreach into that community as well. So USM is coming to us. State Farm is coming to us. The Coast Chamber came to us and that's all great."

Townsend said "What we can do more than anything else is through the Network is get them connected with other members of the community, Hispanic community, and other agencies that are already doing outreach into the community. "

The partnership started three years ago and has grown to about 16 active members including  Moore Community House, U.S. Department of Labor, Catholic Social and Community Services and the Gulf Coast Fair Housing Center.

"There is definitely a strength when you get people together and as a network,"Diaz said. "It helps because a lot of us are busy with our own day to day/ It helps us come together, collaborate, brainstorm together, and support each other's events. Let each other know what is happening in your agency, what things you are planning.."

If your organization is interested in joining the Hispanic American Coastal Network you can all the El Pueblo Ministry at 228-436-3986.

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