At El Centro de las Americas, our mission is to empower the clients we serve and through them make a positive impact on the health and well-being of the Latino/Hispanic community. Over the years, El Centro has consistently offered a variety of programs providing needed resources to improve lives in a bilingual and bicultural environment. That stability has earned us the respect and trust of our community.
We are very grateful for the continued funding that has allowed us to take the lead in helping our under-served community during these very uncertain times, providing much needed services for those impacted by COVID 19.
Because of the pandemic, many low income families had their lives changed overnight, without work for months, with children at home. This was especially hard on families that were broken apart before the pandemic due to immigration policies, often leaving mothers as the sole provider for their families, and older siblings caring for younger ones. During this very difficult time in their lives, we were able to serve 75 families, and yet we still had a long waiting list for more services.
With every family, we took the time to listen and understand their challenges, to provide nutrition education, advice on how to best use the food resources they received, and how to find affordable healthy food to help them build stronger immune systems. We also helped breastfeeding mothers through video support. Increasing physical activity is a major need within the Latino/Hispanic community. We encouraged our families to exercise to help prevent depression, anger, and frustration. We advised them about no-cost ways to safely exercise like walking in their neighborhoods, visiting different parks in the city, and playing actively with their kids. We also explained the importance of physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a face mask in crowds and around people outside their household.
We are very grateful for the tremendous community support we have received allowing us to provide masks for our families. We have distributed more than 400 masks to our people, and we continue to help our community understand the responsibility we all have in protecting our own health.
Our Youth Program has provided a virtual forum that has been very well received by our kids who needed to talk with our facilitators about their feelings of fear, frustration, and anger. The forum has also provided guidance for kids struggling with their home study.
The isolation, increase in domestic violence, and divorce caused by the pandemic has shown us how much work we have to do as a community to come together, be more transparent, honest with ourselves, and work harder to be the best version of ourselves.
It has been a difficult time for the staff of El Centro wondering if we were really making a difference. But when an 8-year-old girl from a family of seven, has her mother call our Health Program Manager, Olga V. Caicedo, to express her gratitude for the financial assistance, masks, sanitizer, gloves, books, nutrition, help with the census, and making them feel that someone in the community cared for them, we know our hard work is worth it. The young girl hoped to someday to serve people and make them "feel alive" like Olga had.
Despite our intensive workload, we at El Centro, are very thankful for the support we have from the community, local agencies, and funders like Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln, our non-profit collaboration partners, and many others. Together we are making a difference and we can continue to serve through the years to come.