Our Local Hispanic Community: Creating an Inclusive Community

  • Published
  • On August 16, 2016
Women sitting at a table

Telluride’s local play write festival, Sparky, just completed performing the play, “The Hispanic Women’s Project”. The play was adapted from local true stories of Hispanic women. It provided food for thought on how the Hispanic community is and is not welcomed in our community and what barriers still exist for us to be an inclusive and culturally sensitive society.

Telluride Foundation staff conducted an inventory (see below) of what programs and services we provide and fund, as well as the programs and services being provided by the many other nonprofits in our community. We are hoping to better understand all the critical services currently being provided for the local Hispanic community, but also where there are gaps and needs for further resources.

Health, education, safety, jobs, housing and community inclusion are everyday factors for Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike. However, the Hispanic community is disproportionally affected because many do not have legal standing and are first generation immigrants without a deep understating of our systems, culture and values.

We know that there are wonderful programs serving our Hispanic community, but barriers to access these programs and gaps in service still exist. Fundamentally helpful to Hispanics are accessible adult and children educational programs. Adult English classes allow adults to attain the fluency necessary to navigate the community, move to supervisory roles in jobs, engage with their children in school, and help with their homework, but some are still unable to access this important service. Programs for Hispanic students to learn, prepare and access financial resources for vocational and secondary education are critical, but it is still a challenge for many students to attend such educational opportunities. New approaches such as AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), apprenticeship programs, wrap around services, and school to career programs are emerging to overcome the barriers that exist in our rural community, but we can still improve.

One of our founding values at the Telluride Foundation is inclusion. Fundamental to a strong, healthy and vibrant community, is cultural appreciation and empowerment. Providing opportunities and breaking down barriers for our local Hispanic community is an issue that we take very seriously and prioritize in our grant making. We know that we can do more and do a better job to create an inclusive community.

Inventory of Current Programs and Funding:
1) San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC) – Foundation granted $44,000 in 2015 ($443,816 since 2001)

SMRC serves San Miguel County and the West End of Montrose County. In 2015, SMRC served 68 Hispanic clients, and this year, served 39 Hispanic clients to date. SMRC’s “Cultural Outreach” program works specifically with the Hispanic community, linking clients to a wide array of resources such as medical services, school enrollment, employment support, and financial assistance. In house, SMRC provides services such as short term counseling, legal advocacy, safe-housing, safety planning, and prevention education. SMRC holds monthly educational outreach events called Familias Hispanas covering a wide array of topics such as college preparation, talking to kids about safety, nutrition, wellness, etc. SMRC also assist clients with UVisa applications, which allows for undocumented victims of violence to apply for US residency. Its prevention educators help with the KIND Club, a program in Telluride Middle School (and now continuing into the high school) that promotes inclusiveness and connectedness. It was so effective with the middle school girls, that they are expanding it to boys as well.

SMRC just hired a new Female Prevention Educator that is bilingual, giving SMRC three full-time bilingual staff. SMRC aims to recruit as many bilingual and bicultural staff as possible, as a third of its clients are Spanish speaking.

2) Bright Futures, Parents as Teachers – Foundation granted $30,000 in 2015 ($196,000 since 2007, when they became their own 501(c)(3).

Bright Futures administers the following programs severing the Hispanic community:

Parents as Teachers currently serves 20 Latino families with at least 20 more still on a waitlist to be served! San Miguel County is estimated to consist of almost 30% Latino/Hispanic now and PAT’s waitlist reflects this population increase.

Latino Group Meeting through PAT, with topics including:
• Preventing Sexual Assault in our Children (Presenters through the years: Nancy Anderson, Deanna Tamborelli, Kara (from the SMRC), Karla Gonzales, Claudia Garcia)
• Healthy Nutrition for our Families (Presenter: Bridgett Taddanio on several occasions)
• Why Immigrant Families should Focus on Early Childhood Education
• How to prevent Common Childhood Illnesses, a Chat with Dr. Gaylord
• How to Promote School Readiness, a Chat with Selena Sermeño
• Play/Social Events (numerous every year)

Reading Buddies: Bright Futures funds a summer reading program that is available in English and Spanish through the library.

Dia de los Niños: This global event happens every year on April 30th. Several local resources get together and offer fun activities in the library for the entire family. There is also food provided. PAT has participated in this for the past six years. This event emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

3) Partnership Programs
Papa Noel: Bright Futures and San Miguel Resource Center collaborate to host this family event occurring every December (and has for the past nine years). It consists of a pot luck event where families come and enjoy organized games for children, piñatas, gifts (books, coloring materials, etc.) given to each individual child by Papa Noel (Santa Claus). For the past six years, Bright Futures has donated money to this event. Everyone is invited to attend, and efforts are made to encourage non-Latinos to attend.

Immigration Lawyer: Bright Futures partnered with SMRC to fund an immigration lawyer to meet with Latino’s in the community regarding immigration concerns/questions

Mariachi Band: Hosted an event through the Jazz Foundation (in collaboration with PAT) where local Latinos provided food for sale. There was a Mariachi Band, a piñata and a face painter. This was a huge success.

Informational Event on Summer Camps & Scholarships: Bright Futures partnered with Telluride Academy and the school district in the spring to offer this informational event for Latino families

Resource Pamphlet: There is a Latino Resource Pamphlet that outlines all services available in Telluride.

4) Tri-County Health Network – Foundation granted $20,000 in 2015 ($94,400 since 2011 when they become their own 501(c)(3).

All TCHN’s programming could benefit the Latino population. Latino participation in its programming runs from 21% – 31%, with Skippy Dental & our Chronic Disease outreach having the highest participation. Bilingual assistance is offered for all programs except Cooking Matters.

Programs most utilized by our Latino population include Skippy Dental, Chronic Disease outreach, Heart Healthy, entitlement enrollment assistance, Chronic Disease Self-Management Classes (CDSMP) in Spanish, & Good Neighbor Fund.

TCHN used to manage the Latino Health Fund, serving 100% Latinos, but the private donor no longer funds this program. TCHNetwork has used earned revenue to fund the program for another year to ensure preventive services are available to the Latino population.

TCHN just received 3 year funding to hire a Latino advocate who is bilingual & bicultural to spearhead an advisory group of Latino leaders & champions. The Latino Community Advocacy Committee meets quarterly to discuss health disparities, integration issues and address these challenges facing the Latino community. The Committee (comprised of 9 community members involved in Hispanic affairs) has met twice and has identified the following needs/issues faced by the Latino population:
1) Business exploitation (probably biggest issue) – Housekeeping recruiting young Latinas to work. Overworking and underpaying them with fear of simply replacing them with other workers.
2) Families do not understand their rights as citizens or immigrants in our society and oftentimes taken advantage of and underutilizing local resources.
3) Cultural stigma against Hispanic/Latinos from white community. Lack of sensitivity and acceptance as a member of the community, always seen as an outsider rather than a member.
4) Families continue the gender norms of their culture. For example, women are pressured to stay at home to take care of their families and younger children rather than receive an education.

5) Good Neighbor Fund – Approximately $40,000/year from the Telluride Foundation

In both 2014 and 2015, The GNF served approximately 4 families (about 5%). Program awareness within the Hispanic community is limited as the program is only promoted by social services, the San Miguel Resource Center, and word of mouth from individuals previously served.

6) ELL program through Telluride High School – Foundation has granted $10,000/yr. for the last 2 years and $5,000 in 2013.

The Foundation’s grants are matched by the school district. Five levels of English instruction, from beginner to advanced proficiency, are offered in two semesters throughout the calendar year. Approximately 50 adults enrolled in the most recent April – August semester. In addition, the school funds a cultural liaison position to connect families to school and community services.

7) Hispanic Affairs Project – Foundation granted $9,000 last year for community education, outreach and affordable immigration legal services to low income individuals and families.

This 501(c)(3) organization is based in Montrose, but serves families in San Miguel County. It has recently made an effort to host programs and be more physically present in Telluride.

8) Outcome Measures for Grant Making
The Telluride Foundation recently instituted Outcome measures for its grants within all nonprofit sectors. Grantees are now measuring the number of minorities served. By tracking the demographics of their constituents, the Telluride Foundation, as well as the nonprofits themselves, can better measure the effectiveness of their outreach to minority communities.

9) One to One Mentoring Program – Foundation granted $40,000 in 2015 ($443,816 since 2001).

The Hispanic community participates in the following One to One programs:
• Core mentoring (4 to 6 hours per week) – 25% Hispanic
• Study Buddy (2+ hours per week) – 63% Hispanic

There is a waitlist for One to One Mentoring programs, with about 57% of the waitlist being Hispanic.

10) Telluride Library
Hispanic Resource Librarian, Claudia Chavira to hold twice a month coffee talks for immigrants who want another opportunity to practice English. The Library also provides an extensive materials collection in Spanish, especially in the child/youth section.

Gaps in Service to the Hispanic Community
1) Lack of Spanish speaking and bi-cultural psychotherapists, attorneys, and medical providers. We currently have one seasonal psychotherapist in the area that speaks some Spanish, but is not fluent. The County nursing clinic often calls SMRC to interpret for their patients/staff. In other areas there are programs to incentivize professionals to learn Spanish, and continue working in the community once they are fluent.

2) Access to infant, toddler and preschool slots in local childcare facilities.

3) Parents as Teachers- can’t serve all families on its waitlist, currently 20 families on waitlist.

4) If San Miguel County is 30% Hispanic, then the GNF is not serving the Hispanic community proportionately. Perhaps this is due to limited outreach to the Hispanic community.

5) Adult English Classes – only offered in the evening; providing classes in the morning, as well, would attract more adult students. Also, it would be beneficial to create a greater diversity of classes, including parenting skills, basic education (e.g. GED), as well as classes in citizenship.

6) There is a gap in resources to provide advocacy, translation and interpretation, legal help, immigration assistance, health literacy, career development and job support and housing assistance.

7) Exploring opportunities for more adult language classes and ELL support in the school in Norwood.

8) TCHN is planning a Hispanic needs assessment survey to be conducted in late fall, which could be instrumental in determining priority needs and services for the Hispanic Community.

9) Create pathways for members of the Hispanic community to assist in creating services, become leaders of their community, and to work at jobs supporting the Hispanic community.