Submitted by mbrodbeck on Thu, 10/14/2021 - 15:04
AmeriCorps staff

Hispanic and Latino Americans Make our Communities Stronger, Safer, and Healthier through Service

Hispanic heritage is American heritage. We see it in every aspect of our national life: on our television, on the radio, and in the food we enjoy. National Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the American Latino community.

AmeriCorps is committed to inclusivity, and accessibility in national service. We benefit from the many contributions of Hispanic scientists working in labs across the country to help us fight COVID-19 and the doctors and the nurses on the front lines caring for people's health; and those who wear the AmeriCorps A. AmeriCorps members are working hard across all of our programs to strengthen the communities they serve and show America at its best.

AmeriCorps brings together community leaders to help solve everyday issues. Turtle, who supervises AmeriCorps members in the NCCC program during their service year, is just one example. She’s committed to equity. She identifies as Puerto Rican and Taino, which is the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. Turtle was born and raised in Connecticut and was immersed in her culture through family and her community. Turtle loves bringing her culture into the workplace. One of the ways Turtle uses her perspective is to encourage and support others to participate in the NCCC program. She is committed to helping create a platform for members to have equal access and an opportunity to work in agencies and organizations lacking representation.

Turtle, who identifies as Puerto Rican and Taino, brings her culture into the workplace

“This month is important because it reminds me to take a step back and reflect on the importance of being proud of who I am,” said Turtle. “Being Latina in a leadership position in a federal agency is extremely important to me. When I first started with AmeriCorps, I didn't see many people I could identify with. This agency put me on an equal platform where my hard work was noticed, and I was able to move up into a leadership role. I feel a great sense of accomplishment every time members tell me they find motivation in seeing someone they identify with in my position.”

Read more about Turtle’s story.

During September, three Latino AmeriCorps members in the State and National program were awarded 2021 Excellence in AmeriCorps Awards for their inspiring acts of service during the pandemic.

Everyday these members go above and beyond to make their communities safer, smarter, and healthier.

Victoria’s commitment to inclusivity drove her service. She’s an AmeriCorps member with the California AmeriCorps Disaster Team/American Red Cross and was selected for the 2021 Inclusive Service Award. She started her recent year of service by working with underserved communities in southeast and metro Los Angeles hit hard by the pandemic. Working with school districts and local organizations such as the Mexican American Opportunities Foundation, All People's Community Center, The Mariachis, and the Consulate General of Guatemala, Victoria provided virtual preparedness training and offered personal protective equipment. She deployed twice this year with the Latino Engagement Team where she provided outreach, information and resources to Hispanic communities.

Paloma’s compassion helped more than 1000 people. She’s an AmeriCorps member serving with Social Capital, Inc./South End Community Health Center and won the Innovative Service Award addressing food insecurity and other social determinants of health. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paloma established partnerships with local organizations to provide over 5,000 prepared meals, 3,000 culturally sensitive frozen meals, fresh produce and supplies to pediatric patients. She also played an important role in conducting 70 percent of the health center’s social determinants of health screenings.

Paloma
Victoria
Jaret

Jaret, an AmeriCorps member, shows empathy every day. He serves with the City of Las Vegas’ ReInvent Schools Las Vegas AmeriCorps program and was selected for the Impactful Service Award. As a community navigator, Jaret helped multiple community members by getting families connected to the internet so students could connect with their teachers through distance learning. He helped families get connected to resources for housing and connected to the local food bank to keep food on their tables. Throughout his service, Jaret worked directly with students that were at-risk of becoming chronically absent. He checked in with students every day and connected with each of them - kids looked forward to their virtual attendance check-ins each week. Students started logging in to class, participating and becoming more engaged with their schoolwork.

Congratulations to these Excellence in AmeriCorps awardees who wear the AmeriCorps A with pride.

AmeriCorps members are also contributing their time and talents in Puerto Rico.

Carmen, Volunteer in Action Service in Puerto Rico Project Director for the Integral Development Unit Director at the Universidad Ana G. Méndez Recinto de Gurabo has AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program developing, coordinating and implementing processes that strengthen the services provided to the community.

“Through the resources provided by AmeriCorps, we have been able to be more effective and efficient in promoting economic development activities through education, job placement, and the growth or expansion of microenterprises,” said Carmen. “The Alliance of Volunteer in Action Service to Puerto Rico empowers individuals through these economic activities, so that they can generate income, thus improving their quality of life overcoming poverty.”

During National Hispanic Heritage Month, AmeriCorps programs and Hispanic and Latino leaders and members are working hard to make our communities stronger. Join AmeriCorps to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to lift up and honor the core values that drive service every day.